The South Korean city of Gwangmyeong will host an exhibition of prehistoric cave drawings from France as one of many cultural exchanges to commemorate the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the city announced Friday.
In a joint press conference held in Seoul, Gwangmyeong city Mayor Yang Ki-dae and former French Culture and Communications Minister Fleur Pellerin said the upcoming event will showcase the Paleolithic drawings from the Lascaux Cave in southwestern France.
"I think our exhibition will be quite different from previous ones because this time it takes place near an actual cave, not in a museum," Mayor Yang told the press briefing.
The exhibition will take place near Gwangmyeong Cave, an abandoned mine from the Japanese colonial era (1910-1945), spanning
7.9 km in length and reaching 275 meters in depth, that was turned into a tourist attraction a few years ago.
South Korea is the first Asian country to hold the exhibition, which has been previously shown in the U.S., Canada, Belgium and Switzerland. After Seoul, it goes to its next city, Tokyo.
The cave drawings from some 20,000 years ago were accidently found in 1940 by four boys who played near the site. In 1963, the caves were closed for fear of damage. The cave was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
For the exhibition that will display life-size replicas of the paintings and archival images, the city commissioned famous French architect Jean Nouvel to construct an exhibition hall. Nouvel is already well-known locally for designing Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art.
The city originally planned to show the precious, historic drawings inside its own cave, but had to give up because it was impossible to get the huge replicas to pass the small entrance.
The former culture minister Pellerin, who is well known in the country for her Korean adoptee background, is the honorary ambassador of the exhibition. She took the role because she was "deeply moved by the mayor's idea to bring children from underprivileged families to enjoy the exhibition for free."
"I think it is the responsibility of politicians to create an environment where poor children can also pursue their dreams."
On the exhibition, she emphasized its universal appeal.
"It is not only for artists but for all people. It displays human life and it will touch people's hearts."
The exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until Sept. 4. (Yonhap)