June 13, 2006
ARCO COMMISSIONER RESIGNS IN PROTEST
Sunjung Kim, the commissioner for Korea's participation as guest country at ARCO 2007, scheduled for next February, has resigned her post in protest of what she calls "bureaucratic intrusion into curatorial affairs, political manipulation of the artistic programs and outright hostility" from Korean officials responsible for funding and administrative support for the project. Kim, 40, was commissioner of the Korean pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale, and had developed an extensive series of exhibitions and activities for Madrid, including a memorial exhibition to Nam June Paik at the Fundación Telefonica organized by former museum director David A. Ross. Now, Ross has resigned as well in support of his colleague.
The behavior of her liaisons in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism -- Lim Byung-dae and the recently appointed arts head, Lee Hyung-ho -- "grew increasingly bizarre, verging on the Kafkaesque," according to Kim. The ministry's meddling in Kim's artistic program came to a head with its insistence on the inclusion of Korea Fantasy, a 40-member theater troupe that "prominently features the phony traditionalism of the 'fan dance', whose origins are in Las Vegas-style stage shows invented by the military dictatorship in Korea in the 1960s as entertainment for foreign tourists." As it happens, Korea Fantasy was developed by Korea's new culture minister.