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Art museums strive to ride Korean Wave

July 18, 2011 - 18:48 By Park Min-young
Private museums join hands to promote Korean artists online; exhibition shows images of Korea captured by top photographers

Witnessing K-pop and TV dramas lead hallyu, or the Korean Wave, across Asia and Europe, Korean art insiders decided to jump in and seek chances for Korean artists as well.

The Korean Art Museum Association announced on Monday the launch of the “K-Artist Global Project” at Somerset Palace Seoul in Susong-dong. Created on an online platform, the project aims to introduce and promote Korean artists overseas. 
Artists participating in the “K-Artist Global Project,” including Lee Lee-nam (fourth from right) and Kang Hyung-koo (fifth from right) at Somerset Palace Seoul in central Seoul on Monday.(Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

It is a “project that combines cutting-edge technology and art of curating,” said Lee Myung-ok, head of the association and director of Savina Museum of Contemporary Art.

Separate virtual exhibition rooms allocated to each of the 14 participating art museums will be accessible from the association’s homepage ( from October. Viewers will be able to browse around exhibitions and get details about the artists, artworks and museums online.

A total of 1.2 billion won ($1.13 million) has been allocated to the three-year project.

Seven local art critics including Seo Seong-rok, head of the Korean Association of Art Critics and Andong National University professor, and three international art critics including Fumio Nanjo, director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, were nominated as the first jury. They picked 22 artists out of 70 recommended by the association’s member museums.

The chosen artists are mostly in their 30s to 50s, such as Lee Lee-nam, Jeong Yeon-doo and Kim June, who the organizers said “best show contemporary Korea.”

“We said that the project will discover and promote up-and-coming or undervalued artists, but since this is a national project and is its first year, we chose relatively established artists. The artist pool will be rearranged every year,” said Lee.

Quoting Lee Su-man, founder and controlling shareholder of SM Entertainment, who said in 1997 “If I dream alone it would be nothing but a dream but if we do it together, it is the start of a new future,” the project’s co-director Kim Jong-geun emphasized that the biggest goal of the project is to make foreign art insiders search for Korean artists through the website and eventually invite the artists to exhibitions and biennales. They are also considering linking the project with entertainment agencies in the future to systematically foster Korea-born international artists, he said.

“The K-pop craze broke out after the songs spread out through YouTube and Korean entertainment agencies worked with renowned international composers. After introducing our artists online and forming networks with foreign curators and museum directors, we hope to work in connection with local and foreign entertainment agencies by, for example, holding shows at K-pop stars’ overseas concerts,” said Kim. 

From left: A portrait of Paik Nam-june by Kim Yong-ho, “JEJU ISLAND MT.HALLA 2011 — CHOSUN DYNASTY” by Kim Jung-man, and “Tree Series TR088” by Min Byung-hun, on display at the exhibition “Koreans Spirit: six Photographers” now open at Goyang Aramnuri’s Aram Art Gallery in Gyeonggi Province. (Aram Art Gallery)

Images of Korea on show

In Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, six established Korean photographers got together to introduce the scenery, people and culture of Korea.

At the exhibition titled “Koreans Spirit: six Photographers” currently underway at Goyang Aramnuri’s Aram Art Gallery in Gyeonggi Province, the photographers ― Koo Bohn-chang, Kim Dae-soo, Kim Yong-ho, Kim Jung-man, Min Byung-hun, Lee Gap-chul ― are showcasing a total of 90 works that shed light on what they think are the true pictures of Korea.

Koo, for example, exhibits his well-known moon jar series, Kim Dae-soo offers his bamboo tree series and Kim Yong-ho presents portraits of Korea’s renowned artists and cultural figures like late media artist Paik Nam-june.

Notably, the exhibition is the first-ever opportunity to see Kim Jung-man’s “Image of Korea” series, for which he took over 30,000 photos during his travel around the country.

The exhibition runs through Oct. 16 at Goyang Aramnuri’s Aram Art Gallery Goyang city, Gyeonggi Province. Tickets range from 1,000 won to 3,000 won. For more information, call (031) 960-0180 or visit

By Park Min-young  (