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Westerners' written accounts of Korea showcased at NYC exhibit

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : March 24, 2023 - 14:40

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Poster for “The Wonder Unbound” (Korean Cultural Center NY) Poster for “The Wonder Unbound” (Korean Cultural Center NY)

Some 120 books about Korea from the 1700s to the 1960s written by Westerners are on display for the first time at the Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Center New York.

Titled “The Wonder Unbound,” the exhibition is part of “Asia Week New York” celebrating Asian art in New York City, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Asia Society.

The books were selected from a collection of 1,350 books by Lee Seung-chul, an art professor at Dongduk Women’s University and a hanji artist. Lee has also been serving as the director of Dongduk Women's University Museum since 2016.

The curated books were written by missionaries, diplomats, soldiers, historians and explorers, and published between the 18th century to the mid-20th century in the authors’ native languages after they returned to their home countries.

Aside from written records, visual materials such as photos and illustrations offer a glimpse into Korea’s traditional culture and lifestyle at the time.

Rather than delving deep into the content of the books, the exhibition pays more attention to the visual and aesthetic aspects of the books, according to the center.

“The Wonder Unbound” runs until April 27.