Here are a few examples of the artwork I found:
Above photo from Korea Times
Jar from the Collections of the Asian Art Museum
Modern White Tiger, 2010. Visit Korea
Over the course of my research, I found that in addition to the Tiger, the Magpie was repeatedly appearing alongside the Tiger. Upon further investigation, I discovered the the Magpie was viewed as the bearer of good news, and the Tiger represented a variety of things, including good luck, courage, pride, and being a guardian or ward against evil spirits. If you do a quick Google search of the Tiger and Magpie, you'll find a variety of "minhwa" or Korean folk paintings that depict the two creatures side by side. You'll also see that the Tiger is frequently depicted smoking a long pipe:
Apparently, instead of starting out fairy tales or folk lore with the phase, "Once Upon a Time...", Korean Folk lore starts with the words, "A Long time ago, when Tigers smoked long pipes...". I thought that was really neat! According to my research, this depiction of the fierce tiger with a comical expression and smoking a pipe, was classic Korean satire.
You might also see the Tiger depicted with Rabbits:
Often the Rabbit appears as well, as the Tiger, Rabbit, and Magpie appear side by side in Korean Folklore, with the Rabbit outsmarting the Tiger.
So, utilizing my research, I decided to create my own painting of the Korean Tiger! See below:
I decided to put two Tigers in this painting to represent both parts of the Korean Peninsula: The People's Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Korea is known as the "Land of the Tiger" regardless if it is the North or South part you are referring to. Ironically, the Tiger is extinct in both countries, but a very small chance exists that the Tiger might be living in the DMZ. The Tigers are engaged in a snarl/roar, but are tolerating each others' presence, in order to suggest the current armistice between the two nations. Between the two Tigers is a Magpie, calling upon the ancient meaning of good news. Hopefully, the two countries can come to an amicable agreement, and the Magpie was put between the two Tigers to suggest that there could be a better relationship between the two. The background of red and blue hearkens to the Yin Yang on the South Korean flag, representing a balance of the forces in the universe. Harmony is the ultimate goal in balance, and hopefully the two Koreas can come to live in harmony with one another. Finally, I chose to paint this subject in watercolor, as many of the minhwa in my research were pen and ink with watercolor.
I hope you all have enjoyed my painting and learning a little bit more about Korean art! I'd be interested to hear of any other interpretations people might have about the Tiger in Korean art and culture.