Kim Dong-sung was born in 1970 in Busan, South Korea, and studied Oriental painting at Hongik University.
His debut as an illustrator came with »Samchongwa Hamkke Jajeongeo Yeohaeng« (1998; tr: Bicycle tours with my uncle). It tells the story of a girl and her uncle who witness the encroachment of urban areas into once untouched landscapes on their two-wheeled tours of the city. Kim’s poetic watercolour images illustrate themes of exploitation of nature and the loss of childhood. With »Naiting-Geil« (2005; tr: Nightingale), based on on Hans Christian Andersen’s literary fable »The Nightingale« (1843), Kim illustrates the classic story of the rich emperor and his palace full of artificial elegance where sorrow robs a nightingale of its voice. Kim brings an impressive aesthetic quality to this story about the beauty of nature, the horror of artificial progress and the power of music, harmoniously uniting European and Asiatic pictorial traditions. Kim’s best-known book to date is »Eomma Majung« (2004; tr: »When is Mama coming?«). Set in Seoul during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s, it tells of a child waiting at a tram stop for his mother – in vain. The book is based on a story which was first published in Korea in 1938, and addresses fundamental experiences like waiting and loneliness. Kim brings an expressive power to the story using traditional Korean illustration techniques blended with his own tender and poetic style. In sepia shades he shows the reality of the events described in the book, while dreamlike colourful images represent the same events from the boy’s point of view, with the two perspectives finally flowing into one by the book’s close. With »Gogulyeoleul Se-un Yeong-ung Jumong« (2009; tr: Jumong, the heroic founder of Goguryeo), Kim adapts a tale from Korean mythology which describes the deeds of Jumong, the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo in what is now Korea. Here too, Kim’s illustrations are distinguish by their dramatically compelling balance of text and images. Kim understands that pictures can and should say more than words, and he once again offers a coherent addition to a familiar story.
To date Kim has illustrated over twenty picture books which have received numerous awards in South Korea and he has been nominated for the German Children’s Literature Award. Along with illustration and painting, Kim is also active in advertising, cartoons and animation. Kim lives with his family in Seoul.