In the first of four articles looking back over 2014, we recall some of the culture, sports and heritage stories that made the news.
- Dansaekhwa emerged as flavour of the year. Following the MMCA exhibition in 2013 and Joan Kee’s book, Kukje Gallery had a monochrome retrospective, and dansaekhwa artists were included in MMCA Seoul’s Korean Beauty – Two Kinds of Nature, while in France Lee Ufan had a solo show in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, Park Seo-bo had a solo show in Paris;
- Perennial favourite Park Soo-keun had his largest ever retrospective in Gana Art Museum.
- The new Tongyeong concert hall opened in time for the 2014 Tongyeong International Music Festival.
- The Gwangju Biennale’s opening was marred by artists withdrawing their work over allegations of censorship
- A giant rubber duck spent a while on Seokchon Lake in Seoul to celebrate the opening of Lotte World Tower.
- A new TV reality show, Art Star Korea, focussed on the visual arts. Ku Hyeyoung, a Goldsmiths graduate, was among the 4 finalists.
- Gallery KONG sued Korean Air for plagiarising the photograph of Solseom by British artist Michael Kenna. They lost, (and the Marmot points out that no-one would want to take the photo now anyway, thanks to an LNG plant built on the site)
- The director of the MMCA Seoul branch was removed from her post following claims that she intervened to hire her student as curator.
- 18-year-old Moon Ji-young (aka Chloe Mun) won the Concours de Geneve Piano Competition while 17-year-old Kim Yu-been came joint 2nd in the Flute competition (no first prize was awarded)
- At the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, soprano Hwang Sumi won first prize for Voice (with fifth prize going to soprano Park Hyesang; overall there were 4 Koreans in the top 12 competitors). Hwang follows in the footsteps of soprano Hong Haeran who won the competition when it was last held in 2011
- Korean singer Hong Kwang-ho appeared in Miss Saigon in London’s West End.
- Namhan Mountain Fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and Nongak farmers’ music was listed as Intangible Heritage.
- Korea continued their battle with China and Japan respectively over rights to list ondol and haenyeo at UNESCO
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has targeted getting Korean food listed as intangible heritage at UNESCO, but 20 Korean foods are on the World Endangered Food list (the Ark of Taste)
- One of the investigators into the poor restoration of Namdaemun gate, a professor of wood science at Chungbuk National University, committed suicide, and an official audit recommended that the gate should be rebuilt
- The Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation announced plans to restore the Korean legation in Washington DC (that was in use 1897 – 1910)
- A large Bronze Age site was discovered in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, on an island earmarked for a Legoland theme park
- A new Hangul museum opened in Yongsan, Seoul, in October
- Kim Yu-na was allegedly robbed of gold in the ice dance event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. An Italian physicist “proved” that her routine should have secured gold, while a US figure skating website voted her routine the best of 2014.
Incheon Asian Games
- Im Kwon-taek was director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, which featured Hallyu stars Kim Soo-hyun, Jang Dong-gun, and JYJ. Hallyu star Lee Young-ae was the final torchbearer. Big Bang performed at the closing ceremony. Lie Sang-bong designed the costumes for the medal presenters
- The North Korean delegation was originally going to include 350 cheerleaders but instead a high-level political delegation including Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so came in Kim Jong Un’s own plane.
- The two Koreas took gold and silver in the football event.
- Park Tae-hwan won his 20th medal over three Asiads in individual and team events.
- There were a number of organisational shortcomings which were variously referred to as a “Cluster F@ck” and a “mess“
- A Japanese swimmer stole a camera from a photographer.
- Officials from the International Olympic Committee visiting Pyeongchang seemed to be concerned about costs and legacy, and suggested moving some events to existing facilities elsewhere, including Japan.
- Golfer Kim In-kyung won the Ladies European Masters, held in Buckinghamshire http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2014/07/08/2014070801516.html
- Ji So-yun signed to Chelsea Ladies and was voted Players’ Player of the Year in the English Womens Super League 1.
- Park Ji-sung took on a job as promotional ambassador for Man Utd.
- A record number of foreign tourists visited Korea. Those who were less than happy about this included:
- Students at Ehwa, who found their campus “invaded” by Chinese tourists
- Jeju Islanders, who didn’t think it right that Chinese should be allowed to rent cars
- One Jeju Islander in particular (Lee Hyori) who found that visitors were too intrusive
- Some of the tourists themselves, who found Koreans less than welcoming
- The Wall Street Journal reported on the range of museums available on Jeju (not all of which were worth a visit)
- Korea posted a record medical tourism surplus with visitors including the Armenian president, UAE citizens with their treatment funded by their government and Russians seeking fertility treatment
- The Dongdaemun Design Plaza opened in March, hosting among other things some treasures from the Kansong museum and a hallyu show featuring My Love from the Star