S. Korean artist to create 2,002 face masks for World Cup+

KOBE, Dec. 26 Kyodo


South Korean artist Kim Myong Hee is shaping her own message to the world ahead of the 2002 World Cup soccer finals to be jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea by making 2,002 masks with the faces of living people from both countries.

Gearing up to meet the production target by then, Kim, 50, will make the rounds next year of the 12 World Cup host cities, including Japan’s northern city of Sapporo and South Korea’s Pusan, to invite people to the workshops who are willing to be models for the masks.

For Kyoto-based Kim, her ”Japan-Korea Life Masks 2002” project, which will display 1,001 human faces in paper masks from each of the two host countries, is intended to ”deepen the amity” between her native country and Japan — her home for the past 25 years.

All the masks will be displayed on murals during the World Cup period. Kim has so far completed about 600 of the ”life masks” after visiting eight places in Japan and South Korea.

Kim will make the murals from traditional handmade paper of Japan and South Korea, on which the shapes of faces will be formed from plaster casts taken from the models.

Kim says each paper mask represents the essential oneness of the people and demonstrates as well their individuality in terms of nationality, profession and culture, among other things.

”But when these masks are all lined up next to each other, you then realize we are all the same human beings living on this Earth. It is this simple truth I want people to feel,” she said.

Kim began her mask project in 1995 when she was searching for her own way of expressing a requiem for the thousands of people killed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe and its vicinity on Jan. 17 that year.

Until then, Kim, who moved to Kyoto in 1975 with her American husband, was a painter working on full-length portraits.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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