This was 15 years, 9 months, 23 days ago

I have so much more to say.

ideas: korea is turning into a westward vector pointing away, away, away. 50 years of japanese occupation and subsequent cultural obliteration created a distinct stratification of identities in terms of time: old korea, new korea.

'old korea' is a strong identity, clearly codified by a consistent 'schema': rustic patterns, earthy color scheme, red-yellow-blue symbol, specific historical objects, typography modeled after the 훈민정음. subject matter on pre-japanese-occupation country, farming, values of integrity, naivete, purity, simplicity.

the inverse of 'old korea' is cosmopolitan, sensual, dark, alluring. having no referent in contemporary korean culture (this dimension being yet nonexistent, post-occupation), cultural inspiration comes from the west, but changes from 'inspiration' to 'importation'. 'old korea', as nostalgia, fights to preserve itself, stay alive. such western/sensual/layered/complicated ideas are hence assigned to not-old-korea: new korea.

(the real dichotomy here between OK and NK is simplicity versus complication, which might explain why so much of art that adheres to old korea seems to favor a visually simple, two-dimensionally near-abstract, raw brushstroke-revealing style: see, Lee Jung Seob)

anyways: so the idea of art becomes part of new korea, having been imported from the western world.

and: cosmopolitanism/urbane/intelligence/wealth become linked, legitimization of status, or achievement of cosmopolitanism gained through purchasing western art. see: all the galleries in 청담동/seoul selling damien hirst, liechtenstein, and even yue minjun (mind, an eastern artist picked by western art?) pieces..

so? hurry, hurry. 'contemporary korean culture', 'korean art' is starting to become a syntactic contradiction. bboying/breakdancing is now seen as an element of contemporary korean culture, as seen in a korean tourism ad. there is little interest towards korean art that does not fit in with the vocabulary of 'old korea', because legitimacy and standards lie with contemporary western art. korea's bestsellers are nearly all translated books. ads on television have two approaches: rustic/country/korea/parental+confucian values, or sexy/suave/quaint/elegant/western. hurry, before it's too late.

this syntactic contradiction means that there is no self-recognition of its own (read: not imported) contemporary culture. (again, this is hard: korea's markers of national growth is based on exportation: recently, celebrations went on cheering Korea's $700billion value status in terms of exportation.) idea: as a result, an aphasia of a sorts that occurs..

this is the schizophrenia of korea, triggered by fifty years of cultural amnesia.

update: more on this later.