Decolonizing-3 Images from South Korea

Pre-colonial

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Cranes and Peaches (Haehakbandodo in Korean)

Credit: The Honolulu Museum of Art (Gift of Anne Rice Cooke in 1927). Anonymous. Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), dated 1842 or 1902. Pair of six-fold screens; ink, color and gold on silk.

These six-fold paintings are estimated from the era of the Korean Empire which was the last independent unified Korean state. It is known that they were painted by anonymous artists to commemorate the entry of Emperor Gojong (r. 1863-1907) into the Society of Honorable Seniors (Giroso) in his 51st year (1902). This is one of the paintings that have survived from the imperial court of the Joseon dynasty. Unfortunately, they were taken and sold by Japan in the colonial era and this one is currently in the collected of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

(Referenced website: http://honolulumuseum.org/art/exhibitions/11387-masterpieces_korean_art)

Colonial

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Joseon Art Exhibitions

Image Credit: 『朝鮮』(朝鮮總督府, 1925), through the collection Information service of Seoul History Archive (Archive No. 75578)

This is a photography taken inside the Joseon Art Exhibition in June 1923. Korea was taken over by Japan from 1910 to 1945. During the colonized era, there were Joseon Art Exhibitions held annually as part of Japan’s culture governing policy. These annual exhibitions were held in Korea from 1922 until 1944. The exhibitions were meaningful because they were the first exhibitions open to the public as a competition format, however but they were limited since most of the jurors were Japanese, and the Japan government was involved in and controlled the artist’s artworks during exhibition process.

(Referenced website: http://www.museum.seoul.kr/archive/archiveView.do?currentPage=5&type=D&type2=&arcvGroupNo=2901&lowerArcvGroupNo=&arcvMetaSeq=25992&arcvNo=75578&realArcvGroupNo=2901&searchVal= )

Post colonial

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Image Credit: National Museum of Korea. 3D view image of the exhibition ‘Goryeo: The Glory of Korea’ which is on display to the public from 4th Dec. 2018 to 3rd Mar. 2019 at the Special Exhibition Gallery in the National Museum of Korea.

The National Museum of Korea is currently holding a special exhibition to mark the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Goryeo (918-1392). It is accessible to everyone on these days via website using a VR service. I also had a chance to try the exhibition online and I found some interesting wall texts, which I have reproduced below:

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This list represents art organizations that lent artifacts to the exhibition (two museums in USA, three from the UK, two of Italia, and six from Japan) and the website also indicates how long each artifact will be at the exhibition. Probably some artifacts cannot be in the exhibition at the same time for contractual issues, or for other reasons. Above all, I felt that it’s a shame that our artifacts belong to these other countries, and that we needed to borrow them for this exhibition.

(Referenced website: https://www.museum.go.kr/site/eng/exhiSpecialTheme/view/specialGallery?exhiSpThemId=319757&listType=gallery )

Image selection and post written by Hong