When We Were Kings and Queens of the Road: Jin Yong

Photo: P3b Photography, reproduced with permission from the artist.

I was born in a small Korean town WangQing in China 1981, all my family are Korean by blood but we were born and raised in China. 

The school was located about 2 km from our home, a small house with many neighbors and none of us locked the door. It was a very safe and happy neighborhood. We always shared our food whenever we made special dishes but like everywhere else, the town changed completely and no one really knows who lives next door anymore. 

Childhood photos of Jin

Both my parents were working so I had to go to school on my own following older kids in the neighborhood. I remember school start super early around 6:30-7am and finish around 4pm. When I walk back home, my parents usually were still in work so I would be playing with kids in our neighborhood or feeding neighbors piglets and chickens. I remember there were so many butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and insects you could catch and I loved going to near mountain with friends and bring home some wild vegetables that my mum could make Korean salad with. If we were lucky we could find some wild strawberries too.

Going to school I had to cross the only bridge in town and one winter morning I was on my way to my art class, I wanted to cross the icy river, being a 9 years old child I was excited crossing by short cut on the ice river instead of crossing the bridge which I shouldn’t have, I remember Ice broke under my feet and one of my leg was completely under the ice. If hole was any bigger I probably completely under the ice and drowned, winter in my town can go as low as minus 30 degrees and instead of going home get changed I went to school, I remember my pants were rock hard because it was almost completely frozen, teacher let me sit next to the fireplace and dry myself, it was not big deal back then but looking back I was lucky to be alive. 

Looking back, I was very blessed to have had a beautiful childhood, I was surrounded by beautiful nature, animals, insects, plants and that was where my love of wildlife came from and shaped who I am today.         

JIN YONG (b.1981) is an award winning artist who has been based in Ireland since 2002. When he was about five years old, he became interested in art and began taking lessons from a private teacher. He studied for four years in Art and Design in Changchun City, which has a population of seven million. After moving to Shanghai city, he got his first work experience as a graphic designer and design editor for ‘Good Morning Shanghai’, one of the biggest Korean magazine publishing companies.

Since moving to Ireland, he has had 17 solo exhibitions and a number of group exhibitions. To date, over 900 paintings of his have been collected by individuals and organisations globally.

Jin Yong is a Christian, and in his view God is the best designer and artist, who created this world full of beauty and colours. Jin Yong looks for inspiration in Nature and gets new ideas from modern culture. His main focus is to paint endangered species and raise the awareness of human impact on nature. He also adds positive messages and symbols to share his appreciation of family, friends and happiness.

In 2018, he won a Chinese Professional Achievement Award by the Association of Chinese Professionals in Ireland, represented by H.E.Dr. Yue Xiaoyong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland.

On 15th November 2019, his work ‘Gorilla “Purple Rain”’ was featured on The Late Late Show along with Andy Warhol and Banksy’s work.

By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.