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[Art on Jeju Island] Waterdrops on Jeju Island

Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju (Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju)
Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju (Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju)

The following is the second article in a three-part series that explores art galleries on Jeju Island. -- Ed.


JEJU CITY -- Contemporary art master Kim Tschang-yeul died in January at the age of 91, but his waterdrop paintings continue to send a message at Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju.

Located in the Hallim area on the western part of Jeju Island, a 50-minute drive from Jeju International Airport, the museum dedicated to the “waterdrop master” stands on serene grassland.

The artist, recognized for his signature waterdrop paintings, was a major figure in the contemporary Korean art scene. The art museum run by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province opened in 2016 with 220 pieces donated by the artist and a number of installation works. Kim’s ties to the island go back to the Korean War, when he took refuge there for 18 months. 

Visitors view waterdrop paintings at Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Visitors view waterdrop paintings at Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

“Most of the visitors are from outside of Jeju Island,” curator Kim Yong-cheol said. “The artist was globally recognized for his distinguished art universe, a master of his own art style. His legacy can satisfy the visitors’ curiosity and also inspire them.”

In May the museum is presenting two exhibitions, “Light and Shadow” and “The Variation of Waterdrops.” Twelve works by Kim are on display at “Light and Shadow,” which continues until Aug. 15. “The Variation of Waterdrops” exhibition, slated to run until May 23, shows 17 works by Kim with the aim of providing a deep understanding of his artistic world.

Even if one is not familiar with Kim’s waterdrop paintings, the unique architecture of the museum is certain to appeal to travelers. 

At Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju, the courtyard features a water fountain and waterdrop installations, reflecting Kim’s passion. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
At Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju, the courtyard features a water fountain and waterdrop installations, reflecting Kim’s passion. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

The building, designed by architect Hong Jae-seung, is situated on 4,990 square meters. While designing the single-story building, Hong met with Kim multiple times.

When seen from above, the concrete building is shaped like the Chinese character “hoe,” which means to return. The design was inspired by Kim’s “Recurrence” series.

Inside the museum, visitors run into several waterdrop installations, which add another dimension to the waterdrop paintings. 

A signpost points the way to galleries within the Artists’ Village in Jeoji, on western Jeju Island. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
A signpost points the way to galleries within the Artists’ Village in Jeoji, on western Jeju Island. (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

The museum is situated within the Artists’ Village in Jeoji, where the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art and some individual galleries are too. Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju is like the hub of the village, Kim said.

According to the museum, it has received more visitors since Kim’s death earlier this year. From January to April, more than 14,660 people visited, as compared with 11,398 in the same period in 2017, 8,853 in 2018, 8,650 in 2019 and 6,633 in 2020. The museum closed Feb. 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The art village is situated near the Jungmun Tourist Complex, which features big hotels and tourist destinations. Visitors can also visit other nearby travel destinations such as the Spirited Garden and Gotjawal Forest.

More information on art museums on Jeju Island can be found at the Jeju Tourism Organization site, www.visitjeju.net.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

Kim Tschang-yeul Art Museum Jeju

Yonggeum-ro 883-5, Jeju City
(064) 710-4150
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays
Admission: 2,000 won for adults, 1,000 for youth

Note: Out of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic, the art museum accepts online reservations at its website at kimtschang-yeul.jeju.go.kr/kimArt. Visitors without reservations may have to wait.
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