On October 3, renowned South Korean illustrator Kim Jung Gi passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47. He was beloved for his innovative ink-and-brushwork style of manhwa, or Korean comic-book art, and famous for captivating audiences by live-drawing huge, intricate scenes from memory.
Just days afterward, a former French game developer, known online as 5you, fed Jung Gi’s work into an AI model. He shared the model on Twitter as an homage to the artist, allowing any user to create Jung Gi-style art with a simple text prompt. The artworks showed dystopian battlefields and bustling food markets — eerily accurate in style, and, apart from some telltale warping, as detailed as Jung Gi’s own creations.
The response was pure disdain. “Kim Jung Gi left us less than [a week ago] and AI bros are already ‘replicating’ his style and demanding credit. Vultures and spineless, untalented losers,” read one viral post from the comic-book writer Dave Scheidt on Twitter. “Artists are not just a ‘style.’ They’re not a product. They’re a breathing, experiencing person,” read another from cartoonist Kori Michele Handwerker.
Far from a tribute, many saw the AI generator as a theft of Jung Gi’s body of work. 5you told Rest of World that he has received death threats from Jung Gi loyalists and illustrators, and asked to be referred to by his online pseudonym for safety.