It was for two reasons. First of all, I draw pictures of traditional Japanese cultural elements, mainly kimonos, because they are mysterious and beautiful, as I already mentioned, and not because of the international, political and social meanings. However, people were constantly trying to interpret this. I am a woman, Asian and Korean, but I didn’t choose to be so and I don’t even define my identity because of this. I’ve always just been me. People from Korea, which is a country with a historically problematic relationship with Japan, need some explanation because they don’t think I can draw Japanese elements just because I find them beautiful.
Also, if some Westerner begins to paint Korean elements, Koreans will be amazed, but eventually will refuse to acknowledge his or her paintings and exclude them from the country’s art scene. Many Korean art experts say it is impossible that those who are born and raised in the West will perceive the fine and semi-emotional traditions of Orient – Korean history among them –, and create with a high level of understanding. Of course, it is somewhat clear that a person who hasn’t grown up in a particular culture may have a lesser understanding of it than those who have. But is there one unique culture? No; it is a mixture of Islam and Western culture, which mixes with China and flows back to Korea, and then it goes back to Japan and goes to Europe. Just as pizza is no longer Italian food but a symbol of America. It does not make any sense to me that the nationality that is given to me at birth is an element for restricting my creation.
The second reason is that I'm trying to create some dramatic tension in my work. I want to draw pictures that would not be accepted anywhere. It should not be too new, too classic, nor too sophisticated, too rough or static. It should not be tied to anything, it should be very intense, but it should not dictate anything. It is my intention as a painter to capture a breathtaking and dramatic confrontation.