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Ho-Am Museum, National Museum of Korea
March 1, 2003 3:14 AM   Subscribe

"The Ho-Am Art Museum began with the donation of over 1,200 Korean works of art collected over a period of more than 30 years by Mr. Lee Byung-Chul, the late chairman of the Samsung group. [more]"
posted by hama7 (19 comments total)

 
"In April 1982 the building that now houses this incomparable collection opened in Yongin, approximately one hour sout oh Korea's capital city of Seoul."

Also, here is the National Museum of Korea, for your leisure perusal.
posted by hama7 at 3:15 AM on March 1, 2003


No question about how Lee acquired those 1,200 works, huh?
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:58 AM on March 1, 2003


He bought them, probably. Is there some secret about it?

There are countless masterpieces of Korean art which are not in Korea, having been sold before, during, and after wartime.

Here's an interesting virtual gallery (QuickTime) from the Portland Art Museum.
posted by hama7 at 4:29 AM on March 1, 2003


It bothers me that you'd give Lee, Samsung, or the chaebol system such a free ride.

Here's Young-hae Chang and Marc Voge on "New Media Art and Ethics in South Korea." Don't be misled by the title; the piece amounts to a primer on the relationship between politics, the chaebol, and the art world in Korea since the 1960s.

(Also apropos is Young-hae's piece entitled "Samsung." Requires Flash.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:48 AM on March 1, 2003


It seems as if you're reading into art that which you'd like to see, which I think is a little unfortunate. Critics may do it as often as their editors allow, but Young Hae-chang has said she has "nothing to say".

The chaebol (conglomerate) system, will go the way of the dinosaurs, as has been demonstrated in Japan, as soon as the import/export trade markets are freed, and efficiency, rather than size, becomes profitable. Conglomerates receive gluttonous bailouts from the Korean government, year after profitless year because of their military savings, sponsored by guess who?

I certainly didn't link to the Ho-Am to further the goddam communist agenda (evil on wheels), I just thought its website collection was nice, and I hope somebody else might enjoy it.
posted by hama7 at 7:04 AM on March 1, 2003


hama7: Thanks for the link! I have never spent much time looking at Korean art although my home has many different pieces that my wife has acquired.

It was very nice to see!
posted by Plunge at 7:17 AM on March 1, 2003


I'm not reading a dang thing into the art; I merely refuse to participate in the legitimation of a moribund and intolerant system.

This is something the can't-really-call-'em zaibatsus and the supergenecons tried here in Japan: paper over a brutal reality with the niceties of Art and high tea. To hell with it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:31 AM on March 1, 2003


Oh lord, give it a rest. While the chaebols still exist in Korea, they are much changed from what they were in the past. Some have collapsed, some haven't, and small business has grown and grown in Korea. While still powerful, the chaebols in Korea do not wield near the same sized stick that they used to. The companies have changed with the times. They have become worker and people friendly for the most part. They have also spent millions of dollars improving their images with programs such as the one hama7 has shown us. This isn't "papering over" brutality, it is giving back to the country.

If some disillusioned artists want to cling to past brutalities instead of reveling in the freedoms and progress gained through the blood, sweat and tears of the populous, so be it. Korea isn't the same oppressive country it was just 20 years ago and progress is made daily. More is gained now through cooperation, discussion and understanding than through the necessary dissension and demonstration of the past.

Great link hama7, again. Maybe the art of Korea's past can just be enjoyed without turning it into some kind of political diatribe.
posted by Plunge at 8:30 AM on March 1, 2003


Good link, hama7 :).

If the chaebol system deserves to be pulled up for criticism, then the British Museum (for example) and many other institutions in the Western world are no less deserving of the same scrutiny. It is right to question and criticise these institutions for past misdeeds and to try and put them right where possible; but on the other hand, these collections have provided education and enlightenment to many millions of people, whether the original collectors' intentions were for good or ill.
posted by plep at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2003


The Elgin Marbles: The story so far. (BBC)
A campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles.
The British Museum's page on the marbles.
posted by plep at 10:14 AM on March 1, 2003


Nice links as always, plep. Thanks! The Elgin marbles are an appropriate parallel, if even more controversial than the conglomerates' history of acquisition. The Whitney Museum has had similar controversy, but its collection is nice.

adamgreenfield, your points are well-made and relevant, and as a rather fond follower of Young Hae-Chang's heavy industries, I appreciate your inclusion of this article linked above. It always gives me a rather depressed feeling to realize that what the artist intended was not what I ever noticed (especially politics), but artwork, once it's released into the wild, becomes something else. For example, Da Vinci's reasons for painting the Mona Lisa may well have been to unite the proletariat, but I think one can enjoy the piece without knowing that.

As Plunge mentioned, the situation is changing rather quickly, as almost everything seems to do in Korea, but it's hard to imagine a Korea without big companies any time soon.

In any case, thanks very much to all for excellent links and comments.
posted by hama7 at 5:24 PM on March 1, 2003


While still powerful, the chaebols in Korea do not wield near the same sized stick that they used to. The companies have changed with the times. They have become worker and people friendly for the most part. They have also spent millions of dollars improving their images with programs such as the one hama7 has shown us. This isn't "papering over" brutality, it is giving back to the country.

I don't know what country you're talking about, there, Plunge, but it's sure as hell not the South Korea I live in. The chaebols still own the country and its economy and the people and politicians lock stock and barrel, and no amount of well-intentioned PR wallpapering will change that, I'm afraid. Christ, the only reason that there was that 'historic summit' between North and South a couple of years ago was because bribe money paid by Hyundai, for goodness sakes.

As Plunge mentioned, the situation is changing rather quickly, as almost everything seems to do in Korea, but it's hard to imagine a Korea without big companies any time soon.

I suppose, but I think that's a little mildly put. The situation, any situation, always changes rapidly in Korea, at least for the last 30 years or so, but I'd venture that this is one of the things that emphatically is not.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:05 PM on March 1, 2003


stavrosthewonderchicken: I'm not saying there aren't large corporations and that they aren't powerful, but it is NOTHING compared to the power they wielded in the 70s and 80s. Back then they could act with an impunity that they can't do anymore. They are also heavly involved in community development and the like in a way they never were before. This isn't just wallpapering, but has come about because of the activists who fought on the streets in the mid to late 80s and the early 90s and now, work with these same corporations to change through dialogue and other means. This isn't to say that coruption is gone, but that the change has been great.

I understand all to well the dynamics of business in Korea, its my job for goodness sake and has been since the early 90s. I will admit that I was a bit overboard in stating the reduction of the power of chaebols, but when you have seen them in action in the 80s and 90s and studied about their activites of the 70s, the way they operate today is like a breath of fresh air. Even after the disaster of '97, it has become so much easier for small companies to do business in Korea, to partner with companies from outside of Korea and to even try and compete against the giants.

Do I think the chaebols are going away, no, not anytime soon. Will they continue to wield influence and power, yes. Will there be problems, of course. I guess it is just a matter of degrees and I find myself constantly comparing it to the "old days."

Now, after your mention of the NK bribe by Hyundai, we need to start a thread on Kim Dae Jung so I can vent my frustration on his years in office. GAH, I had such high hopes for him...

Oh yeah, I should also mention how frustrated I was when I posted before. I was annoyed to see a thread on historical Korean Art vear sharply away and become another political discussion. Korean Art is something I know little about and would like to learn more.

Anyong.
posted by Plunge at 7:44 PM on March 1, 2003


it is NOTHING compared to the power they wielded in the 70s and 80s.

Agreed.

we need to start a thread on Kim Dae Jung so I can vent my frustration on his years in office. GAH, I had such high hopes for him...

Agreed again. What a disappointment he was. I've got similarly high hopes for Noh Moo Hyun, and since he's not part (either as a pariah of sorts like DJ, or a crony like DJ's predecessors) of the old-boy's network, this time they might actually be justified...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:22 PM on March 1, 2003


This can't be the Kim Dae Jung thread?
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:28 PM on March 1, 2003


Strike that, as much as I believe in following conversations where they lead, it *is* perhaps a bit too wildly OT.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:29 PM on March 1, 2003


Beautiful links, hama7 - I am totally ignorant of Korean art, so these offer a good place to learn more...thanks...

While I appreciate adamgreenfield's concern, I tend to think of art as transcending the temporal hurly burly of politics. Yeats speaks well of this in the poem Lapis Lazuli. And what plep said about the inherent value of the works themselves.

Emperors and institutions change, but I hope in 500 or a thousand years, someone is still moved and inspired by this or this.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:10 AM on March 2, 2003


At first I was very pissed off by adamgreenfield's intervention into this thread (Christ, does everything have to turn into a political argument on MeFi?), but now that our various Korea mavens have gotten into a learned discussion on chaebols and Kim Dae Jung, I'm eager to hear more, and I urge them either to continue here (two... two... two great threads in one!) or start the Kim Dae Jung thread immediately. This is fascinating stuff (and a vindication of thread derailment).

And thanks for linking to those paintings, madam; they're gorgeous!
posted by languagehat at 7:24 AM on March 2, 2003


languagehat, I'm genuinely pleased you think this has gone somewhere wothwhile, but if you'll forgive me for saying so, I don't think of my original comment as a derailment.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:35 PM on March 2, 2003


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