A couple of Japanese tourists get on the plane to North Korea, as soon as they take their seat the girl begins her video story to document every detail of their journey. Following the couple’s movements, the camera captures the street to the capital Pyongyang, while the voice of a Japanese guide dispenses trivial and approximate information about the city. It is in this context that the enigmatic conversations between the two protagonists begin: it seems that they are on the trace of an unicorn. With Hell Bovine and Pony (2016), artist Kim Woonghyun creates a fake documentary in which he tries to portray the difficult socio-politic situation of North Korea. For doing so the artist puts together videos taken from Youtube and recordings from different videogames.

The couple arrives at the hotel and suddenly the camera of the girl points a display on which two My Little Pony kisses intensely: the mechanism jams, now to the recordings of the desolate streets of Pyongyang and its tired and exhausted inhabitants are alternated with videogame realities. Any kind of plausible reference to the current situation collapses: the couple find themselves running after a series of boys in white uniforms thinking that they are heading towards an alleged unicorn factory. In the same time the frames taken from video games appears more frequently in the scene. A second break in the narrative takes place: we are in a forest, the quality of the footage has visibly worsened, the faces of other people are obscured and it is clear that the situation has become much more dangerous. The camera turns off. Everything remains black until a wood appears and in the middle of it digital image of a pink My Little Pony is floating.

The disturbing narrative sequence leads from an apparently quiet tourist trip to a mad chase of the mythological animal, unbalancing between irony and discomfort. With this narrative ploy, in which virtual reality and historical facts overlap and mix, Woonghyun shows the political and social fragility of a nation by simultaneously proposing a reflection on the influence of the digital world within lived reality. Hell Bovine and Pony using the historical and videogame myth, despite the declared arbitrariness of the narrative fictions, plays on the border areas by losing the references and leaving the observer bewildered.


Kim Woonghyun,
Hell Bovine and Pony, 2016
Footage, fake docu, color, sound, 14min18sec
Courtesy the artist