NOH, Jun (Sculptor)

There are times when artists feel the solid meaning of their works. They will have the strength to perform their works more happily than before through such a moment. As one engaging in the work of creating a story for animation using animal characters, I happened to have such moment.


In the summer of 2006, I was in Tokyo, Japan to attend an exhibition. In my leisure time, I decided to spend some time in a dense forest of Ueno Park. There, I found an unoccupied bench and took a rest. A plump, cute-looking cat sat on the bench opposite me. The cat looked in good shape, like one loved very much by the owner.

I addressed him nonchalantly, saying, “Come here, baby.” To my pleasant surprise, he came to me. I patted him on the head. He then went so far as to rub his body gently against my arm. He went away a few minutes later.

I experienced a similar thing with several cats I came across in the park. They must have been stray cats, but they all looked in good shape and friendly.


The stray cats I encounter in Korea are totally different. They become alert, ready to run away when someone approaches them, leaving the impression that such attitude is a result of long experience. On the contrary, Japanese cats seem friendly toward people, just like pet cats. I don't know where to begin to figure out the difference, but my experience with stray cats in the Tokyo parks made me feel deep remorse as a Korean.


In Korea, it is not hard to find people kicking a stray cat or some children throwing a stone at it or offering empty bags instead of cookies to an elephant in a zoo, while their parents are busy taking pictures of their beloved children engaging in such acts instead of scolding them for doing so. After years of such practice, stray cats have come to regard people as those doing harm to them.


The animal characters I make all have the shape of humans. They have the faces of cute animals but bodies of human beings. The cheerful and cute appearance lets us have a flash back to the time when we were little. I want to convey the message that someday, animals and people can become one, just like my characters.


I view the restoration of relationship as a lifelong subject as expressed in my works. I perform my work of making animal characters in the shape of humans, keeping in mind the need for the restoration of relationship among people and between people and nature or animals. I want to exchange opinions frankly with the audience coming to see my works, which seek the restoration of relationship between people and animals.


A few artworks cannot change the way people think. Still, it will be a good thing if artists disclose their thoughts in a straightforward manner and members of society join them out of a wish to create a better world.



Seoul Art Guide, May 2015 issue