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Art Exhibit Raises Awareness of North Korea’s Need for Reforestation

December 13, 14 and 15 in Syracuse

An ESF graduate student is organizing an exhibit by top North Korean artists to benefit the revitalization of North Korea’s forests.

The exhibit will be Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at Metro Harvest Assembly of God Church, 1808 E. Fayette St., Syracuse.

Hang Ryeol Na, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Studies, is working with people in Syracuse and in China to bring 90 paintings to Syracuse. Na plans to form a non-profit organization, tentatively called the Open Forest Foundation, to promote tree planting in North Korea. Proceeds from the sale of any paintings will support humanitarian efforts in North Korea and to help establish the foundation.

The revitalization of North Korea’s forests would serve two purposes, Na said. It would repair the agricultural infrastructure, which has been damaged by years of severe famine. Driven by hunger, people have been eating tree bark and roots, which damages the trees, and in turn damages the entire forest system, including the soil. Healthier forests would also alleviate environmental problems like drainage and flooding.

Na said most of the paintings depict North Korean scenery, and some show people in traditional garb, participating in activities such as playing music.

Na’s goal is to encourage a friendly relationship between the people of the United States and North Korea, aside from differences that exist between the government of the two countries.

"Now it's time to see the people, not the government, of North Korea," he said.

Na is a native of South Korea. He is studying at ESF because he wants to learn more about environmental sustainability as a way to address the issue of poverty.

Hours for the art exhibition are 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 14; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15.