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A gift of "hope" for Obama

One South Korean mixes art with politics.

SEOUL — Using voice waves from Barack Obama’s inauguration speech as inspiration, a South Korean businessman and self-taught artist has created gifts of "hope" to congratulate the president on his first 100 days in the Oval Office.

"I’d like to see him become living evidence of hope," said artist Lee Kwan Young, referring to the word that became the tagline of Obama's campaign. On display were a tie pin and cuff links that Lee made for Obama and a pendant and brooch he designed for the first lady, all encased in a box labeled “Hope by Obama.” (Click here for GlobalPost reports on how Obama's first 100 days played out around the world.)

Lee's experimentation with sound waves began in 2006. “Each person has a different sound wave, which is why voices all have an identity,” Lee explained.

Because each wave is like a fingerprint, Lee had the idea to use waves as expressions of individuality, and he secured a patent related to voice wave art. So far, he has exhibited his artwork of sound waves of the word "love," and has created small metal pieces using voice waves of famous figures such as Martin Luther King.

As part of the generation that experienced firsthand the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, Lee takes great interest in U.S. politics: He believes what happens in the U.S. inevitably influences the rest of the world.

To Lee, Obama seems like someone who genuinely cares about good governance. Initially, Lee hoped to bolster Obama'a campaign by printing T-shirts. “But it was kind of obvious that he was going to win without my help anyway, so I gave that idea up,” Lee said with a burst of laughter.

Then when Obama won the presidency, Lee felt it was important that the president stay true to his words of hope and inspiration, especially given the current economic downturn.

Hence, he began his four-month project of "hope" — he chose the word after Obama used it numerous times in his inauguration speech. Obama's voice waves, Lee said, are far better-looking than those of other people.