Korea Society offers customized shows in U.S.

By 김후란
  • Published : May 23, 2011 - 19:14
  • Updated : May 23, 2011 - 19:42

New York-based organization plans 10 traveling exhibitions in America

NEW YORK ― The Korea Society sits where the Third Avenue meets East 55th St., promoting deeper and wider understanding between the American and Korean people.

A small art exhibition, “Korea Design Heritage,” currently being held at the Society is part of its dynamic efforts to help Americans get to know how Korea’s industrial designs evolved from the 1960s to the 1980s and influenced the lifestyle of Koreans.
Items representing industrial designs in the 1970s in Korea. (Korea Society)
Visitors look around exhibited items at the Korean Society’s “Korea Heritage Design” exhibition in New York.

With the subtitle “Selling Happiness 1960s-80s Consumer Design in Korea,” the exhibition showcases 45 items, all symbolically representing how such designs affected Koreans’ daily life in each decade.

Starting with the first locally-produced radio, the A-501 by Gold Star (a precursor of LG), TV sets, rubber shoes and Chilsung Cider, a classic soft drink, all point to the industrialization of the Korean economy.

A photo of Gyeongbu Expressway in 1970 well explains former president Park Chung-hee’s bulldozing style of running the country in the 1970s.

Items from the 1980s when sports and pop culture were greatly boosted by the government include a MyMy Cassette Player, Hodori, the Official Mascot of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and an old picture of Jamsil Olympic Stadium.

“Korea Design Heritage” will travel to Chicago and Los Angeles through next spring.

In addition to the exhibition which runs through June 3 in New York, the Korea Society has 10 other exhibitions traveling across the U.S.

“While striving to expand the audience base within the greater New York area, where the Korea Society is based, we have also focused on reaching audiences outside of the major metropolis, where opportunities to see beyond the headlines can be quite limited,” Kim Jin-young, gallery director of the Korea Society, told The Korea Herald.
Kim Jin-young, gallery director of the Korea Society

“They’re not blockbuster events but each exhibition is a unique jewel which illuminates little-known aspects of Korean culture,” she said.

The 10 traveling exhibitions include “Toy Stories: Souvenirs from Korean Childhood,” showcasing 200 children’s toys from the 1970s and 1980s, “Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World,” featuring 74 wooden dolls, dragon head boards and phoenixes.

Other interesting shows include “Gods, Demons and Generals: Icons of Korean Shamanism” and “Missionary Photography in Korea: Encountering the West Through Christianity.”

“The Missionary exhibition features 100 photographs taken between the early 1890s and the late 1930s by Protestant and Catholic missionaries. This offers a unique perspective on how Koreans encountered the West through Christianity,” Kim said.

Another exhibition, “Inside North Korea with the New York Philharmonic,” features 40 pictures taken by photographer Mark Edward Harries documenting the orchestra’s concert in North Korea in February 2008.

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By Kim Yoon-mi, Korea Herald correspondent