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Government Agencies Hold, Display Hundreds of Works of Art

Government Agencies Hold, Display Hundreds of Works of Art

Posted October. 08, 2005 07:57,   


In the Central Government Complex and its annex buildings, more than 390 pieces of artwork are exhibited respectively in each division.

The Central Government Complex is hardly accessible, however.

The most valuable pieces are mostly concentrated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) at the annex building. Frequently visited by foreign guests, the MOFAT has an independent Art Advisory Committee, in which outside figures also participate in, to discuss which paintings should be purchased and where they should be exhibited. Artwork to be exhibited in overseas diplomatic and consular missions also have significance of promoting Korean culture to leading figures abroad, so the committee conducts a thorough examination to buy such works.

Hung in the Office of the Prime Minister at the Central Government Complex are “A Snow-Scape” by Lee and “Hills and Waters” by Byeon Gwan-sik. “Early Autumn” by Lee is possessed by the MOFAT, but is hung in the official residence of the minister of foreign affairs and trade in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, not in the Central Government Complex Annex building.

Non-government officials should go through cumbersome procedures, such as showing their identification cards and receiving visitor cards, to enter the buildings. Some indicate that government agencies should come up with measures to exhibit artwork to the public, for a certain period on a certain day of each week, so that citizens can also have an opportunity to appreciate the artwork.

One can also visit the “Cyber Gallery of Government-Possessed Artwork” on the official website of the Public Procurement Service (www.pps.go.kr/pic). Brief explanations of the artwork are made in Korean and English.

The National Assembly Building Providing Easy Access to Artwork-

Artwork possessed by the National Assembly are easily accessible compared to those at the Central Government Complex.

In particular, the National Assembly Library in Yeouido, Seoul has exhibited a large number of artwork together in the corridor on the second floor so that ordinary citizens visiting can easily enjoy them. “Late Autumn” by Kim Ki-chang is hung in the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly on the second floor at the National Assembly main building. The “Picture of Winds and Streams in Mt. Seorak” by Bae Ryum is located in the official residence of the speaker of the National Assembly in Hannam-dong, so it is difficult for ordinary citizens to see this painting.

The Judicial Town in Seocho-dong with Plenty of Symbols of Justice-

One can also see several pieces of artwork in the so-called Judicial Town in Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, where the Supreme Court, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the Seoul High Court, the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office, the Seoul Central District Court and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office are located together.

In the Supreme Court, there are many sculptures signifying justice and equality. The “Statue of Law and Justice” by sculptor and Professor Um Tae-jeong of Seoul National University, worth 400 million won, is the most expensive artwork in the Judicial Town. The statue, made of bronze, emblematizes the horns and tail of the unicorn-lion in Korean mythology. Words have it that “Harmony-95” by sculptor Moon Shin, where 200 million won of production costs were reportedly spent, is now virtually priceless. Moon died in 1995, with the statue almost finished, when the Supreme Court was relocated from Seosomun, Jung-gu to the current location of Seocho-dong. The statue, having scarcity as the posthumous work of the late sculptor, might be sold at a sharply higher price compared to its production costs if put up for sale. The Supreme Court, however, is said to have not asked for any assessment on the work. There is a field-trip program set up to view the artwork exhibited in the Supreme Court building where participants can listen to explanations from knowledgeable guides. (Inquiries: 02-3480-1307~8)

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com