“They have been harassed, threatened, publicly scorned and surrounded by large, aggressive mobs. They have been held behind bars, and faced the wrath of furious governments. Yet, they appear not to have lost their moral compass, their passion, or their hearts.
Their “crime”? Art.
Despite government pressure, Malaysia’s Zunar and South Korea’s Hong Sung-dam continue with their “crimes”. In fact, both consider it a moral imperative to do so.
Zunar, whose cartoons often flag corruption and censorship issues, says talent comes with responsibility. “It’s my duty as a cartoonist,” he says emphatically. This month, he is scheduled to face trial for sedition charges, which could land him in prison for 43 years. He remains undeterred. “The risk is very high, but I have to keep doing this.”
Satirical artist Hong likens the role of artists to rabbits in submarines. Sensitive to oxygen, rabbits were taken on submarines to monitor oxygen levels. Likewise, artists are watchdogs who work to help “uphold human dignity”.
In his native Korean, in an email interview, Hong explains: “Artists are people who tell the world about the preciousness of Nature and life. I have an obligation to communicate through art all the conspiracies to destroy human dignity and Nature.”
Artists Zunar and Hong are among Asia’s “rabbit watchdogs” who have, metaphorically, found it hard to breathe at times. In some Asian countries, it can be a luxury for artists to have the unrestricted space and freedom to express their inner vision and views. …”
Read more on Asian Geographic.