Explore history of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-shin
Two statues stand at Gwanghwamun Square representing two iconic figures of Korean history: Adm. Yi Sun-shin, a national hero who triumphed over Japanese invaders during the Imjin War (1592-1598), and King Sejong, an ingenious ruler who invented Hangeul, the Korean writing system, in 1443.
Two permanent exhibitions have been set up underneath these statues, housed in the basements of Gwanghwamun Square and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. These exhibitions provide an informative and immersive experience for the exploration of the remarkable lives and extraordinary accomplishments of the two leaders.
The exhibition dedicated to Adm. Yi showcases various artifacts, including his war diary, “Nanjungilgi,” and a scaled-down replica of a turtle ship.
Visitors can try sailing using two types of oars from the Joseon Dynasty, participate in a rowing game where they must control their speed to evade enemy ships, or try out a shooting game with a choice between two types of naval cannons.
In the 4D Hall, a panoramic screen and a motion-sensitive chair provide a dynamic experience, transporting visitors back in time to witness the legendary Battle of Myeongnyang. Limited to 12 seats at a time, the show operates at 15-minute intervals, and participants must be over 100 centimeters tall.
King Sejong’s exhibition offers a comprehensive understanding of his life and the creation of Hangeul. It also highlights the king’s scientific and artistic achievements, with detailed explanations next to the displays.
There is the opportunity to learn how to write your name in Korean and practice calligraphy using a traditional writing brush and ink.
An MP3 audio guide is available in five languages: Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish.
The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with last admission at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Video games as art
The notion that exhibitions provide fresh insights into familiar subjects through the medium of art holds true for video games as well.
In this regard, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is hosting an exhibition titled "Game Society" to explore video games as an art form.
This exhibition delves into the aesthetics of video games within the context of visual culture and contemporary art, shedding light on their relevance in our society through three themes: "Artgame, Gameart," "World Beyond Worlds" and "Play Together, Stay Together.” There is also a special art installation, "Cutter III (2023)," located at Seoul Box, a space inside the museum.
Upon entering the exhibition hall, visitors are greeted by gaming sets and can actually play some of the video games, fully immersing themselves in the gaming world before proceeding to the main sections of the exhibition.
In the "Play Together, Stay Together" section, visitors encounter Ram Han's VR work titled "Tutorial: How to Uninstall My Twin Sister (2023)." Reclining chairs shrouded in white curtains await, prepared to guide guests to a virtual reality world.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley's installation, "She Keeps Me Damn Alive (2021)," creates an overwhelming atmosphere in a dark setting. These works address different social issues in their own ways.
The "Artgame, Gameart" section explores the definition of so-called "artgames." It features screens displaying Harun Farocki's "Parallel I-IV (2012–2014)," a thought-provoking exploration of image reproduction.
Cory Arcangel's "Super Mario Movie (2005)" fragments and reproduces elements from the Super Mario video game, showcasing reconstructed images in a large, dark room, evoking strange feelings in those who enter.
Under the theme "World Beyond Worlds," visitors are invited to envision futuristic scenarios. Lawrence Lek's installation, "Notel (Seoul Edition) (2023)," captivates visitors with virtual world images. They also might find their faces illuminated by the fires on screens displaying Jacky Connolly's video, "Descent into Hell (2021)," which conveys a profound sense of alienation.
As visitors move between the different exhibitions, they may come across rows of bean bags, where they will observe fellow visitors engrossed in viewing the artwork, "Cutter III (2023)."
The "Game Society" exhibition runs through Sept. 10 at the MMCA Seoul. Admission costs 2,000 won per person, and VR works can be experienced by making reservations online.
Byhomie's "Rear Mirror Bag+Mirror" exhibition
Byhomie, a local bag brand, is running an exhibition and popup store showcasing the artworks of three artists using mirrors.
The exhibition looks into people’s daily life wearing bags, and what it means for people to stand in front of the mirror wearing bags before heading out.
The everyday act of standing in front of the mirror at home can become fun and meaningful, according to Byhomie’s goal for this exhibition.
Under the brand’s main concept of seeking ideas that turn everyday life into an art, Byhomie has collaborated with artists Kang Jeong-eun, Yinggang and Lee Su-bin.
Their works range from mirror-based art pieces based on Joseon’s tradition of "chaekgado," or still-life paintings of bookshelves, to paintings of people with bags on mirrors and wooden framed mirrors with animal sculptures.
The exhibition opened on May 16 and runs until May 28 at Changseong-dong Laboratory in Jongno-gu, Seoul. The gallery opens everyday, except for Monday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.