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Korea’s Cartoon CenturyJeju Museum of Contemporary Art commemorates 100th anniversary of cartoon in Korea
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승인 2009.10.28  00:24:24
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▲ The Korean Cartoon Exhibition is on display until Oct. 30 and is well worth the trip in order to celebrate 100 years of cartoon in Korea. Photos courtesy Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art

The Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art is off the beaten path, tucked into the rolling hills, just outside Hallim. The angular, modern building houses a fascinating collection of contemporary art works by both Korean and international artists. The current Korean Cartoon Exhibition showcases the cartoons produced in print and animation over the last 100 years in Korea.

The first room showcases the older comics, featuring hand-drawn panels from the early 20th century. A wall-sized mural displays the most popular characters from all forms of Korean comics, which smile at the viewer from above a table holding hundreds of comic books. Each character embodies the distinct time period in which they were drawn. Seeing them in sequence provides a visual pop culture history of Korean social attitudes.

The show is an education in Korea and comics, and follows the evolution of the hand-drawn comic books of the 1930’s, through to the modern advancements in computer animation. A wide variety of subjects and styles are represented from hand-drawn single panels to graphic novels and from simple animation to the latest technology. The pictures are so vivid and expressive that an English-only speaker can certainly understand and enjoy the show.

Near the staircase in the book room, several screens display short animated sequences. Standing long enough to watch each three minute piece is worth it. Each has a message, a comment on Korea's evolution as an industrial nation. The animation pieces are all by contemporary artists and they exhibit the excellence the world associates with Korean animators.

The cartoon show inhabits a large section of the museum, but it is certainly not all that is offered at the Jeju Contemporary Art Museum. The permanent collection features fine, modern paintings by Korean artists in a wide range of styles. As you enter, you will see a large collection by Kim Heung-su, a noted Korean painter. This show features large paintings of women and colorscapes. The permanent collection also holds several unique dolls and a huge variety of sculptures dotting the exhibit halls and the garden outdoors. A few hours enjoying the art is certain to refresh the mind and spirit.

The surprising gems of the collection are tucked in a corner on the bottom floor of the museum- a small Picasso and a Klimt. They are not flashy or large works, but certainly display the cubist master’s visionary style, and the soft romance of Klimt's brush. Their somewhat unceremonious placement by the restrooms makes these pieces easy to find.

Aside from the primary museum building, there is also an annex nearby which currently displays a collection of landscapes by a Japanese artist. The soft tones and modernist twist really set the work apart from a typical run-of-the-mill landscape series. It is not to be missed.

The Korean Cartoon Exhibition will be on display until Oct. 30, but the permanent collection alone, is well worth the trip. The museum is located at Jeoji-li, Hankyeong-myeon, near Hallim; other nearby attractions include the Spirited Bonsai Garden, Jeju Botanical Garden, and the Glass Castle.

From any of the main bus terminals, take a bus to Hallim and then a taxi to the museum. The entrance fee is 1000W. For more information about the Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art, call 064 772 4003.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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