'Old Korea' shows pictures of Korea drawn by British woman in 1920s
Updated: 2020-07-01 17:05:41 KST
Colorful pictures depict the lives of Koreans during the 1920s.
These pictures were drawn and painted by Elizabeth Keith, a British woman who was visiting Korea during the time of Japan's colonial rule.
Elizabeth Keith came to Korea with her sister to travel, approximately a month after the March 1st Independence Movement in 1919.
Attracted by the beauty of Korea, she decided to stay and record what she saw on canvas.
She drew colored pictures such as 'The Bride', 'The Widow' and 'The School-Old Style', to give a glimpse into Korean culture and then published into a book in 1946 titled 'Old Korea'.
A former professor who translated Keith's books into Korean says her book is a unique record of Korean culture in the 1920s.
"No one has depicted Korean people's lives with colors. Eastern paintings were all black and white. Because her paintings were so realistic, to some researchers studying that time, they even played a role as evidence."
Among other paintings the translator collected by himself, the highlight is the portrait of a man assumed to be Admiral Yi Sun-sin.
Although it is up to the experts to figure out if it is really Admiral Yi Sun-sin, he says he is positive as no warrior at that time would have been able to hold a baton and dress as commissioned officer.
'Geobukseon', the so-called turtle ships in the background are another clue that it could be a painting of the famous naval leader.
"Elizabeth Keith always has drawn something in the background that signifies the person. For example when she drew the 'Princess in Court Dress', she put a dragon as she was a royal. When she drew 'The Eunuch', she drew him as if he were in Gyeongbokgung Palace."
Most pictures of the time only showed certain parts of society, but Elizabeth Keith's drawings give readers an insight into all classes of society, especially the lives of women and children in Korea during that time.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.