CKS Conference: Picturing Identities and Ideologies in Modern Korea

Picturing Identities and Ideologies in Modern Korea: Transnational Perspectives for Visual Culture

Images of historical Korea


In recent years, scholars have noted a few topics of visual culture commonly found in East Asia at the turn of the 20th century. At this time, new forms of popular culture, including novels, magazines, and newspapers, as well as official public monuments presented a new image of the nation in the changing environment of world expositions and international congresses. Along with this direction, studies of visual culture in modern Korea have dramatically increased with the work of Mok Soohyun, Kim Youngna, and others. Since 1988, Professor Youngna Kim at Seoul National University has published essays on Korean visual arts and the Korean reception of Western art at the turn of the twentieth century. Her scholarship was fully materialized in the well-recognized book, 20th Century Korean Art (2003), which influenced many scholars of Korean studies due to its worldwide dissemination.

Although economic transnationalism, commonly known as globalization, became visible in the last few decades of the twentieth century by means of the new technologies of the internet and wireless communication, an effort to modernize a country”s image in the domain of visual culture was equally conspicuous and even more urgent at the turn of the twentieth century. For example, Emperor Gojong's portraits were produced using various kinds of new media, including photographs and oil paintings, as he sought to be a despot and ruler of a modern nation in the period of the Korean Empire. A 2014 exhibition held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty 1392–1910, attracted much interest to the modern adoption of visual culture during the Korean Empire. A section titled “The End of a Dynasty” presented clothing, accessories, and photography of government officials from the era. Paintings and photographs of figures garbed in both traditional and modernized styles in this exhibition drew attention to the schizophrenic process of modernization. The proposed conference delves more deeply into this process of Korean history from the late Joseon to the Korean Empire throughout the colonial period—a research area that is still largely unexplored in Korean studies programs in the United States. In Korea, on the other hand, sumptuous period films and dramas have made historical figures and material culture of this period much more familiar to ordinary citizens than a generation ago. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) has also recently organized several major survey exhibitions of Korean art from 1900 to 1960 to review the development of Western-style modern art as well as the transformation of the cultural heritage into modernized forms.

As Japan became an imperial power, interaction with Japan prompted Korea and China to adopt new types of public buildings and urban planning to accommodate modernization within the context of national heritage. In this conference, a series of essays focusing on various aspects of Korean modern art, design, and visual culture will discuss how modern Korea reacted to these internal and external demands to reinvent its national image without losing its identity in a challenging period of modernization and colonialism. Essays in Consuming Korean Tradition in Early and Late Modernity: Commodification, Tourism, and Performance (2011), edited by Laurel Kendall, emphasize that local and distant travels allowed people to compare their cultures with foreign ones and to distinguish their own tradition from others. Most of the essays in this conference tackle issues of hybridity, the mixing of the old and the new, the local and the foreign. As demonstrated by essays in Mirror of Modernity (1998), many so-called Japanese “traditions” in Meiji to Taishō Japan (ca. 1910s–1930s) were inflected with invention and innovation. Papers in this conference will also demonstrate how troublesome and confusing sometimes it was to “invent” or “reinvent” familiar artistic subjects for a new era. This gathering of scholars, hard to meet in one place, sheds light on the way in which visual symbols and fine arts of pre-modern Korea were re-encoded with a hierarchical system of modernity and associated with a more complicated set of modern identities.

With two plenary speakers, one at the opening and one at the closing, this conference will give an opportunity to summarize, debate, and reflect on each other’s presentations. There will be two concurrent breakout sessions in the morning and in the afternoon so that the audience can choose a track based on their interests. With three speakers and one discussant in each, the four breakout session themes are as follows:

  • Representing Public and Private Identities
  • Constructing Ethnonational Identity
  • Making of the Artistic Personality
  • Picturing Ethnic Identity

About half of the papers have never been presented to an audience of Korean studies scholars in the United States. This event will be a meaningful occasion for undergraduate students, graduate students, museum curators, researchers, librarians, and professional scholars to get information on recent publications in Korea and outside the US.

Project Director: 
Laura C. Nelson, C.K. Cho Chair, Center for Korean Studies 
University of California, Berkeley

Chief Researcher: 
Kyunghee Pyun, Assistant Professor of History of Art 
State University of New York,
Fashion Institute of Technology


Day 1: March 14, 2019

Opening Remarks with the First Plenary Speaker: 4:00-5:30 PM
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 310


4:00 Greetings
Dylan Davis, Associate Director, Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
4:05 Opening Remarks
Kyunghee Pyun, Asst. Professor, History of Art, Fashion Inst. of Technology, State Univ. of NY; Conference Organizer

Plenary Speaker

4:15 Contested Identities in Modern Korea
Youngna Kim, Professor Emerita, Seoul National University; Former Director, Nat'l Museum of Korea
4:45 Commentary
Youngmin Kwon, Visiting Professor, UC Berkeley; Former Dean of Humanities, Seoul Nat'l University
5:00 Q&A
5:00–5:30 Reception

Day 2: March 15, 2019

Breakfast & Coffee: 8:30-9:00 AM
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 300

Breakout Session 1 (concurrent with 2): 9:00–11:00 AM

Making of the Artistic Personality
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 310

#Paper 1
Modernity Through Tradition: “Korean” Ink Paintings by Ku Ponung
Jungsil Jenny Lee, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Fullerton
#Paper 2
Literati Painting in the Search for a Modern Pan-Asian Subject: Ōmura Seigai and Chen Shizeng
Olivier Krischer, Deputy Director, China Studies Centre, The University of Sydney
#Paper 3
Lee Quede’s “Return to the Land” and Vernacular Modernism in Korea in the 1920s and 1930s
Yeon Shim Chung, Visiting Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Associate Professor, Art Theory and Criticism, Hong-ik University
Mia Yinxing Liu, Assistant Professor, Visual Studies, California College of the Arts

Breakout Session 2 (concurrent with 1): 9:00–11:00 AM

Constructing Ethnonational Identity
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 250

#Paper 1
Creating National Emblems of the Korean Empire: Their Origins and Meanings in Modern Korea
Soohyun Mok, Lecturer, Art Theory, College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University
#Paper 2
Parodox of Hanbok: What Do We Perceive To Be Tradition?
Minjee Kim, Adjunct Professor, Fashion Design, The Academy of Art University, San Francisco
#Paper 3
Inauthentic Authenticity: Korean Souvenirs from Japanese Department Stores
Younjung Oh, Assistant Professor, Japanese Studies, Keimyoung University, South Korea
Julia F. Andrews, Distinguished University Professor, Art History, The Ohio State University

Break for Lunch: 11:00–12:00 PM

Breakout Session 3 (concurrent with 4): 12:30–2:30 PM

Representing Public and Private Identities
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 310

#Paper 1
Royal Propaganda and National Identity in Emperor Gojong’s Portrait Photography
Heangga Kwon, Visiting Professor, Fine Arts, Sungkyunkwan University
#Paper 2
Hybrid Dandyism and Cultural Appropriation in Modern Korea
Kyunghee Pyun, Assistant Professor, History of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology
#Paper 3
Constructing “White Clad Race” in South Korean Culture: Natural Dyes, Spirituality, and Dissent
Leon E. Wiebers, Associate Professor, Costume Design, Loyola Marymount University
Jung-ah Woo, Getty Scholar, The Getty Research Institute; Associate Professor of Art History, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Breakout Session 4 (concurrent with 3): 12:30–2:30 PM

Picturing Ethnic Identity
Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 250

#Paper 1
Between the Ideals and Realities of Korean New Women
Sunglim Kim, Associate Professor, Art History, Dartmouth College
#Paper 2
Ambivalent Identity of Modern Korean Lacquerware under the Japanese Imperialism
Kyeongmi Joo, Adjunct Professor, Archaeology and Art History, Chungnam National University
#Paper 3
The Dissemination of “Art”: Photography and Cultural Politics in Colonized Korea
Hye-ri Oh, Assistant Professor, Art History, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Atreyee Gupta, Assistant Professor, History of Art, University of California, Berkeley

Coffee/Snack: 2:30–3:00 PM

Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 300

Conclusion and Q&A: 3:00–5:00 PM

Banatao Institute in Sutardja Dai Hall, Room 310

3:00 Summary & Final Thoughts
Timothy R. Tangherlini, Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles
4:30 Closing Remarks
5:00 Farewell


Ambivalent Identity of Modern Korean Lacquerware under the Japanese Imperialism

Kyeongmi Joo, Chungnam National University

During the early twentieth century, Japanese colonial archaeologists had excavated many ancient tombs of the Nangnang period (108 BCE–313 CE) in Pyeongyang in the Northern part of Korea. They were considered Chinese lacquerware of the Han dynasty. These excavated lacquerware pieces in Nangnang tombs made the Japanese colonialists imagine a homogeneous identity within the territory of the ancient Han Empire and also identify it with the “Imperial Asianism” of Modern Japan.

I argue that the influence of those Japanese colonial scholars and modern archaeological surveys is found in distortion and transformation of traditional lacquer and wooden craft styles in modern Korea. During the late Joseon dynasty and the Korean Empire, the finest lacquerware for the royal family and the social elite was decorated with multicolored patterns utilizing many luxury materials such as mother-or-pearl, tortoise shell, metal wires, and colored shark or ray skins. Such luxury and multicolored style of Korean traditional lacquerware was only for the most privileged consumers and made only by the royal craftsmen in Seoul.

Ironically, during the Japanese colonial period, such deluxe style of Korean traditional lacquerware had been erroneously identified as “Japanese colonial style.” Instead, the black and white mother-of-pearl lacquerware style has been known to the public as the only available, and legitimate style, representing traditional Korean lacquerware techniques. Moreover, Japanese archaeologists and historians misidentified or misinterpreted, with a clear intention, the long-lost painted lacquerware tradition from Nangnang tombs as a true Korean style, as had been forgotten but fortunately newly discovered. By fabricating a colonial legacy, the Japanese scholarship, I argue, left a negative impact on the community of lacquerware craftsmen and consumers with emphasis on an ambivalent and confused identity of modern Korean lacquerware styles. The entire discourse on discovery of Korean lacquerware style suspended the process of inheriting and acknowledging the finest lacquerware techniques of the late Joseon dynasty.

Between the Ideals and Realities of Korean “New Women”

Sunglim Kim, Dartmouth College

Na Hye-seok’s 1920 cartoon entitled “What is that?” contains two very opposing comments directed at a “New Woman” wearing a Western-style coat and carrying a violin. Two men wearing traditional hats and coats point at her and say, “Who would have that impertinent girl?” However, another man, dressed Western style, says, “How pretty! I would like to say hello if she looks at me.” This pointedly illustrates the very ambivalent, confusing, and conflicting society of modern Korea, especially toward so-called “Modern Women.”

This paper explores the lives of four Korean women intellectuals, artists, and/or writers, Na Hye-seok (1896–1948), Kim Myeong-sun (1896–1951), Kim Il-yeop (1896–1971), and Park In-deok (1896–1980). It examines how their views on free love and sex, economic independence, and challenge to the traditional marriage system had to confront a gap, too large to be compromised, between their ideals and reality. All born in 1896 on the brink of Korea’s transition from the Joseon dynasty to the modern era (i.e., Korea’s annexation to Imperial Japan), they were bright and talented “New Women,” who studied in Japan and believed in feminism. The paper attempts to interpret their ideas and beliefs, as well as scrutinize a barefaced social reality and the ambivalent attitude toward these “New Women” of colonial Korea in the 1920s and 1930s. Writings, including their poems, essays, and novels, as well as visual works, including paintings, photographs, newspaper cartoons, illustrations, and magazine cover pages, will be examined.

Constructing “White Clad Race” in South Korean Culture: Inter-weaving Natural Dyes, Spirituality, and Dissent

Leon Wiebers, Loyola Marymount University

“White-Clad Race” or baek-eui-min-jok (백의민족) is an often noted, constructed and accepted identity of Korean culture originated from spiritual/theological practices of Confucianism and Buddhism. The phrase, “White-Clad Race,” derives from the actual clothing worn by ordinary persons in Korea’s agrarian society prior to the twentieth century. Often dismissed as merely “white things,” this theory of White-Clad Race has been promulgated under the assumption that the lower class could neither afford nor create dyed fabrics to construct their hanbok.

This paper examines the history and availability of natural dyes in Korea. Drawing from artistic representations of Korean people from ancient to modern times including traditional weaving techniques, excavated clothing fragments, written observations, and museum displays. This paper questions the popular story that the lower classes only had garments of fabrics as they naturally “came off the loom”. In particular, I will focus on the use of white garments during the tumultuous Japanese-Korean relations from the Treaty of Ganghwa of 1876 through the Japanese Colonial period (1910–1945). Baek-eui or white garments worn by Korean people during those years represent a form of unification, modern identity creation, and dissent. In popular culture during a painful period of forced modernization under the Government-General of Japan, the construction of “White Clad Race” becomes a conscious construction Korean-ness and political resistance rather than a haphazard acceptance or lack of resources.

Hybrid Dandyism and Cultural Appropriation in Modern Korea

Kyunghee Pyun, Fashion Institute of Technology

Identity politics is a relatively new concept popularized in the 1970s among political scientists and economic historians. Identity politics assumes that a group is formulated based on a particular shared identity or belief, such as race or gender. If this concept is applied to the process of modernization in East Asian clothing, the way an individual dressed himself or herself can be seen as expression of their group identity or as a manifestation of identity politics.

During the last few decades in the nineteenth century, Asian countries voluntarily adopted new modes of dressing government officials and court staffs. For example, the Meiji government in Japan ordered a westernized revision of attires for military and government officials, while King Gojong of late Joseon Korea, under Japanese influence, deemed the adoption of new attires essential to modernization and decreed a series of dress reforms from the 1880s on. After a decade of modernization of clothing in public spaces, ordinary citizens determined their identity by taking sides with different political groups. As is argued in the discourse on modern bodies, disciplined bodies expressed their identity politics in new, hybrid, or conservative fashion.

The period of modernization in East Asia coincided with the diaspora of Asian immigrants to Europe and America at the turn of the twentieth century. Simultaneously, this was also a rudimentary period of globe trotters, when the social elite of the US and Europe such as anthropologists, politicians, and industrialists frequented Asia in their modernized dress or fashionably dressed themselves in indigenous clothing of their hosting country. This lecture will consider boundaries and assumptions of cultural cross-dressing or cultural appropriation in sartorial conventions in Modern Korea.

Royal Propaganda and National Identity in Emperor Gojong's Portrait Photography

Heangga Kwon, Sungkyunkwan University

Gojong (r. 1852–1919) was frequently featured in various Western and Japanese print media, travel brochures, and geographical texts during the late 19th to early 20th century. The Joseon monarch wearing his traditional gowns symbolized an unsophisticated, backward nation that needed to be civilized. During the Japanese Occupation of Korea, these photos were circulated as images of a defeated, conquered nation and were sold as souvenirs to foreigners in the form of postcards and picture albums. However, it should be noted that these photos were not randomly taken by visiting foreigners. They were originally taken under strict stipulations provided by Gojong’s courtiers and only made available with the official authorization of the emperor himself. Thus, I argue that these photographic portraits of Gojong should be closely examined for any changes in representation and interpreted as the royal propaganda of the Korean Empire in the advent of photography.

Focusing on Gojong’s photographic portrait (1905) in the E.H. Harriman Collection, Newark Museum, I read it as political propaganda directed by the king as an effort to strengthen the legitimacy of his sovereignty while comparing it with his portraiture in oil painting and those taken by other photographers. Reception of Gojong’s portraiture by foreign viewers and Japanese colonizers requires another critical perspective. It is my contention that an orchestrated campaign was made to promote the perception of the “fallen Joseon king” the Korean Empire (1897–1910).

Inauthentic Authenticity: Korean Souvenirs from Japanese Department Stores

Younjung Oh, Keimyoung University

Mitsukoshi, a famed Japanese department store, opened a Korean Product Showroom in its Seoul (Keijō) branch in 1930. The Korean Product Showroom was the only space decorated in “Korean style” within the Keijō Mitsukoshi building, which was designed in “Renaissance style,” much like its flagship store in Tokyo. This Korean Product Showroom offered Korean artifacts as luxury souvenirs aimed at Japanese migrants and tourists. The most popular items sold in the showroom were Koryŏ celadon replicas and lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which Mitsukoshi ordered from local workshops in Korea. Interestingly enough, the workshops were managed by Japanese entrepreneurs and even employed Japanese artisans.

This paper explores the inauthentic authenticity of “Korean style” and “Korean products” that Japan promoted in colonial Korea. However, it does not claim that there should be something authentically ‘Korean’ which could only be passed along and produced by Koreans. Many previous studies of colonial-era Korean art have argued that traditional Korean art and artifacts were distorted and degenerated from their “original” forms by Japan. This paper neither focuses on such criticism nor is interested in recuperating authentic ‘Koreanness’ in Korean art and artifacts. Rather, it attempts to examine why the Japanese desired authentic “Korea” and how that desire shaped “Korean style” and “Korean products” through Keijō Mitsukoshi’s Korean Product Showroom and its products.

Paradox of Hanbok: What Do We Perceive To Be Tradition?

Minjee Kim, Academy of Art University

For the past two decades of the twenty first century Korean fashion has experienced a hanbok craze among young generation. A profusion of innovative creativity in hanbok design and styling, melded with global inspiration and historicism, burst at the seams and expanded the spectrum of hanbok. The phenomenon, however, induced two opposing public opinions that it obscures traditional aesthetic vis-a-vis it should be accepted as an evolving tradition. This study attends to the implications surrounding the criticism and departs with the question, what style of hanbok do people perceive as tradition?

Reviewing discourses opened up by the related academia and government institutions to seek for the right direction to preserve cultural heritage of hanbok, this study finds that what has served for a standard image of tradition was the style of Traditional-hanbok during the twentieth century or “modern hanbok.” The analysis of modern hanbok in a historical and cultural context ironically discloses a paradox: what has been believed to embody the nation’s cultural identity had actually incorporated obvious foreign elements from the time the term, hanbok was coined.

This finding brings the ever-transforming aspect in the development of Korean dress, the acculturation and cultural authentication to light, and suggests the search for alternative directions to keep up with global fashion business standards, such as promoting sustainable practice on hanbok production and consumption, continuous education on industry people, and research on primary sources as future design inspiration.

Creating National Emblems of the Korean Empire: Their Origins and Meanings in Modern Korea

Mok Soohyun, Seoul National University

The Taegeukgi (flag with the “taegeuk” symbol) was created as the national flag of the Joseon Dynasty in 1882, and thus served as the image of the Korean people during Japanese colonial rule. Then, following the establishment of the Republic of Korea (i.e., South Korea) in 1948, Taegeukgi was officially declared as the national flag. The creation and declaration of national symbols and emblems is a characteristic practice of a modern nation-state. The tradition traces back to the feudal era of Western Europe, when feudal lords were often represented by their family’s coat of arms. When the first “nation-states” formed, based on a specific territory and “people” (a distinct cultural or ethnic group), they often established a national flag as a device to unite the populace. Finally, when Western countries advanced into Asia for trade in the nineteenth century, countries like Korea, China, and Japan were established as nation-states and officially declared their own national flag as a representative national symbol.

By analyzing symbols within the national flag and also comparing them with prototypes in traditional Korean art, I argue that each country’s vision of independence and national identity was prominent in the design of the national flag to be distributed among its population or to other countries.

Lee Quede’s “Return to the Land” and Vernacular Modernism in Korea in the 1920s and 1930s

Yeon Shim Chung, Hong-ik University

My essay examines the modern Korean painter Lee Quede within the colonial context of Korea from 1910 until 1945, when the country was subject to Japanese economic, political, and military power and the machinations of its Empire building. In my examination of Lee’s work and the social context in which they were created, this essay discusses the critical terms such as “return to the soil” or “return to the land.” The terms imply a sentimental but politicized use of the landscape in order to evoke the tranquility and traditional customs and scenery of the countryside in colonial Korea. The same spirit is found in the aesthetics of Yanagi Muneyoshi (1889–1961), who fetishized and exoticized “Orientalism” in his theory known as Mingei. The essay will focus on interpreting a body of work produced by Lee in terms of “the return to the land” and will incorporate frequent comparisons with other works of art in Korea and Japan to elucidate a clearer and more distinct historical frame of reference.

While looking at the formation and complicated development of nationalism in Japan and Korea in the beginning of the twentieth century, Chung wants to open a more fundamental question about how the Korean artist Lee and Japanese theorist Yanagi responded to the clash of indigenous traditionalism and Western modernity in the colonial context, and how each relied on the concept of the “return to the land” as a directive to either politicize (Lee) or depoliticize (Yanagi) the function of art. This conflicting situation addresses Lee’s vernacular modernity in the history of Modernism in Korea.

Literati Painting in the Search for a Modern Pan-Asian Subject: The Cases of Omura Seigai and Chen Shizeng

Olivier Krischer, University of Sydney

In the early twentieth century, the culture of the literati (文人 Jap. Bunjin, Chn. Wenren) became a space for significant transnational exchanges in East Asia. The details of such exchanges, including joint exhibitions and publications of “literati painting,” have in recent years been the subject of greater historical study as alternative frameworks to our understanding of, for example, China-Japan relations.

In this paper, I will revisit these exchanges through the collaboration between Ōmura Seigai (1868–1927), who pioneered “Oriental Art History” at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and the artist-educator Chen Shizeng (1876–1923), who was by then teaching Chinese Painting at Beijing University, but had studied in Japan. To what extent did these examples represent subject positions that were adopted or explored by others in East Asia at this time? How were the experiences and agendas of such actors complimentary or conflicting? Was literati culture merely a convenient compromise in the contest of new nationalisms, or did it embody an alternative subject position?

Modernity Through Tradition: “Korean” Ink Paintings by Ku Ponung

Jungsil Jenny Lee, California State University, Fullerton

Ku Ponung (1906–1953) has been honored as one of the pioneering modern artists in colonial Korea, with such titles as “the first Korean Fauvist painter,” “the first Korean modernist,” and “the first Korean avant-garde artist.” He exhibited unprecedently expressionistic Western-style paintings after learning modernist art trends in Tokyo and participated in non-governmental and non-academic artist groups during the 1930s. His physical disability and eccentric painting style attracted public attention through retrospective exhibitions and color-illustrated art catalogues published in Korea during the second half of the twentieth century. By contrast, his ink paintings with traditional materials and styles have seldom been researched or introduced. His achievements which are not conspicuously modern by Eurocentric standards, have been underestimated and discarded as representing a later phase of his career.

I argue that Ku’s pursuit of establishing Korean modern painting eventually matured in his later period during the 1940s and early 1950s. These paintings went beyond stylistic dichotomy to demonstrate his attempt to fuse tradition and modernity, ultimately creating a “Korean version of modern painting.” Ku and his colleagues had already pursued this fusion by combining Western-style oil painting and traditional Korean aesthetics through independent art groups in the 1930s. While overcoming the fixed frame of identifying modernism with Western-style painting as well as the art historical evolutionism, this study explores Ku’s continuous efforts as a modernist to reconcile Korean tradition with Western and Japanese modernism under the turmoil of colonialism, imperialism, and wartime conditions.

The Dissemination of “Art”: Photography and Cultural Politics in Colonized Korea

Hye-ri Oh, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

This paper examines how photography gained currency as an art through several cultural venues such as exhibition and photographic contests during the Cultural Rule (Bunka seiji, 1919–1931) in colonial Korea. I specifically analyze how photography was invested by the working of colonial political power, complex social relations, and Korean response to the colonial cultural hegemony. In fact, photography became an efficient tool for the production of knowledge about colonial subjects and for validation of imperialistic encroachment of Japan into Korean territory since the late nineteenth century. Going beyond the explicit use of photography as a violent tool, this paper draws attention to the intersection of cultural politics, which was triggered by the 1919 Independence Movement and photographic practices.

Responding to the nationalist fervor of the Korean masses against the repressive Military Rule imposed by the Japanese Empire in 1919, Japanese colonial government strove to enhance the sophistication of the control apparatuses by shifting the focus from “military” to “cultural.” The contemporaneous notion of “culture” emphasized the significance of “spirit,” “self-formation,” individualism, and humanism, which framed the value and practice of photography. To offer critical understanding of the emergence of the concept of “art (yesul)” in historical contexts, this paper delves into how colonial government, through regulating photographic practices, reinforced Japan”s cultural hegemony and placed Korean subjects under surveillance. This paper looks at photography as an embodiment of ambivalent cultural statements in colonial Korea by highlighting cultural negotiations and assimilation of the colonizer and the colonized.


Plenary Session

Youngna Kim, Professor Emerita of Art History, Seoul National University
Kim Youngna is currently Professor Emerita at Seoul National University. She was Director-General of the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea and Chair of the ASEMUS Executive Committee. She received a B.A. in Art History from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from Ohio State University. She started her career at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul as a professor of Art History in 1980 and was later appointed the director of the university museum. In 1995, she became professor of Archaeology and Art History at Seoul National University and continued teaching until she was appointed as the Director-General of the NMK in February 2011. She has written extensively on Korean modern and contemporary art. Her publications comprise several books and many articles which include: The Art of the Twentieth Century Korea (Seoul: Yekyong, 1998), Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea (Hollym, 2005), 20th Century Korean Art (London: Lawrence King, 2005).

Youngmin Kwon, Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Youngmin Kwon is currently Adjunct Professor at University of California, Berkeley. Youngmin Kwon is a renowned professor of Korean literature at Seoul National University and served as former dean of the College of Humanities there. He has written and edited numerous volumes of literary history, literary criticism and reference works on modern Korean literature, as well as the CD-ROM 100 Years of Modern Korean Literature. He is a former editor of the journal Munhak sasang (“Literature and Thought”) and current president of the International Association of Comparative Korean Studies. Modern Korean Fiction which Professor Kwon co-edited with Bruce Fulton for Columbia University Press in 2005 is a most popular collection on Korean literature across different continents. The volume introduced not only familiar writers of Korean literature but also included forgotten women writers and wolbuk writers (those who migrated to the North after 1945 and whose works were widely banned in South Korea). Professor Kwon’s collection address “the dramatic transformations and events in twentieth-century Korean history, including Japanese colonial rule, civil war, and economic modernization in the South.”

Kyunghee Pyun, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York in New York City
Kyunghee Pyun is an Assistant Professor in the History of Art Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. Her scholarship focuses on history of collecting, reception of Asian art, diaspora of Asian artists, and Asian American visual culture. Her recent book, Fashion, Identity, Power in Modern Asia focused on modernized dress in the early 20th-century Asia and was published by the Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. She co-organized an international conference entitled Documenting Korean Costume: Primary Sources and New Interpretations at the Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University in 2017. This is developed into a book project and being reviewed by several publishers. Pyun was a Leon Levy fellow in the Center for the History of Collecting at the Frick Collection and works on a book project entitled Discerning Languages for the Exotic: Collecting Asian Art. Currently she is a PI of “Teaching Business and Labor History to Art and Design Students” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities ($100,000). This faculty seminar started in 2018 and will be concluded in 2021.

Session 1

Mia Yinxing Liu, Assistant Professor, Visual Studies, California College of the Arts
Mia Yinxing Liu is Assistant Professor in the Visual Studies department at California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, CA. She received her Ph. D. in Art History from the University of Chicago in 2013, and previously was Assistant Professor in Asian Studies at Bates College. Her first book, The Literati Lens: Wenren Landscape in Chinese Cinema (1950-1979) is forthcoming in July 2019 at the University of Hawai'i Press. She also published on Chinese photography, for example, “The Allegorical Landscape: Lang Jingshan's Photography in Context” (Archives of Asian Arts, 2015). Her research interests focus on cinema, photography, optical devices, the history of visual apparatuses and other issues of media in the history of Chinese art and visual culture.

Jenny Jungsil Lee, Adjunct Professor, California State University Fullerton
Jungsil Jenny Lee currently teaches at California State University Fullerton. She specializes in Korean modern art during the Japanese colonial period. Her interests include the (dis)continuity between tradition and modernsim in Korean art during the first half of the twentieth century, and the particularity and interdependency of Korean modern/contemporary art within East Asian and global contexts. She is currently working on her book, Korean Modern Art: Avant-garde Embodiment of Ku Ponung (1906-1953). She presents a modern artist, Ku Ponung, as a case study of Korean modern art, whose lifetime spanned the political, social and cultural upheavals of the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953).

Olivier Krischer, Deputy Director, China Studies Centre, The University of Sydney
Olivier Krischer is currently Deputy Director at the China Studies Centre, The University of Sydney. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University. His research concerns the role of art in modern and contemporary China-Japan relations, as well as recent networks of artistic activism across East Asia. He is co-editor of Asia through Art and Anthropology (Bloomsbury, 2013) and the special issue of Australia & New Zealand Journal of Art, “Asian Art Research in Australia and New Zealand” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). In addition to his research, Olivier curated the CIW Gallery and the Centre’s ‘Asia & Pacific Screens’ film programme.

Yeon Shim Chung, Professor, Hongik University; Visiting Scholar, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Yeon Shim Chung is an associate professor of Art Theory and Criticism at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea. From 2018-2019, she is a Fulbright fellow and visiting research professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She published numerous articles, critical essays, and four books, Installation Art in Contemporary Space (2014); Korean Art Criticism Now (2015); Korean Installation Art (2018); and Arts that Changed the World (2016). She worked as a curator for the 2018 Gwangju Biennale Edition, entitled, "Imagined Borders."

Session 2

Julia F. Andrews, Distinguished University Professor, History of Art, The Ohio State University
Julia F. Andrews is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History of Art, The Ohio State University. As a specialist in Chinese art, she was the first American art historian to conduct dissertation research in China after formal establishment of US–China relations in 1979. Her first book, Painters and Politics in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1979 (University of California Press, 1994), which she wrote during her early years at Ohio State, won the Joseph Levenson Prize of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for the best book of the year on modern China. Her more recent book, Art of Modern China (co-authored with Kuiyi Shen), published by the University of California Press, 2012, received the biennial Humanities Book Prize of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) in 2013. In addition to teaching and writing, from time to time she curates an exhibition, and frequently contributes to exhibition catalogues. Most recently she co-curated Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974–1985, at the Asia Society, Hong Kong Center (May 15–Sept. 1, 2013). She conceived one of the first American exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art, Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile, at OSU’s Wexner Center for the Arts in 1993, and the Guggenheim Museum’s ground-breaking 1998 exhibition, A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth Century China, shown in New York and Bilbao.

Soohyun Mok, Visiting Professor, Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University
Mok is visiting professor at the Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University. She was the chair of the Association of Korean Modern and Contemporary Art History. Having earned a B.A. and M.A. in Aesthetics, M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from Seoul National University, Mok’s research interest is in the discursive construction of the nation state in Korean history. She received the Gim Bokjin Art Award in 2014 for her study of “The Transformation of National Symbols during the Japanese Colonialism: From the Icon of Patriotism to that of Commercial Emblems.”

Minjee Kim, Adjunct Professor, Fashion Design, The Academy of Art University
Minjee Kim is an adjunct professor teaching Twentieth Century Fashion History at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Born and raised in Korea, she received her PhD from Seoul National University specializing in Korean dress history, and previously worked as a faculty member at Jeonju Kijeon College and a lecturer at Seoul National University. She has also performed several projects on the period costume reproduction of the Goguryeo and Balhae dynasty. After moving to the United States in 2000, she has extensively lectured for a global audience both in academia and for the general public on issues of fashion and identity, cultural appropriation, and cross-fertilization between western and non-western dress in Korean context.

Younjung Oh, Assistant Professor, Japanese Cultures, Keimyoung University
Younjung Oh is Assistant Professor of Japanese Cultures at Keimyoung University. Oh received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Southern California with the study of relationship between the Japanese department stores and the avant-garde art movement in the 1920s. She was the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow (2012–13) at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. Oh’s publications include “Made in Korea, Made for Japan: Korean Product Showroom of Mitsukoshi Department Store in Colonial Seoul,” “Marketing Korea in Colonial Seoul,” and “Shopping for Art: The New Middle Class’ Art Consumption in Modern Japanese Department Stores,” among others.

Session 3

Jung-Ah Woo, Associate Professor, Humanities, POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology); Fellow, Getty Research Center 2018–2019
Jung-Ah Woo is Associate Professor at the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences in Postech (Pohang University of Science and Technology), South Korea. Her research area is the postwar art of East Asia and the United States with particular interests in collective memory, historical trauma, and identity politics. She has published her studies in numerous academic journals including Art Journal and Oxford Art Journal, and regularly contributes to the exhibition reviews of Artforum International and Woo earned her Ph.D. in art history from University of California at Los Angeles (2006), and M.A. (1999) and B.A. (1996) from Seoul National University.

Heangga Kwon, Visiting Professor, Sungkyunkwan University
Heangga Kwon is Visiting Professor at Sungkyunkwan University. She could not come due to a research project held in Jeju Island. Kwon received her Ph.D. in Art History from Hongik University with the dissertation “A Study on the Portraits of Emperor Gojong.” As a specialist in the Korean and Japanese early modern art history and history of photography, she was awarded the Jeong Hyeonwoong Memorial Research Grant in 2011. Her publications include “The Constitution of Modern Visuality in Korea: Focused on Works of Japanese photographers around the Sino–Japanese War” and “The History of Studies on the Oil Painting and Visual Culture of Modern Korea.”

Kyunghee Pyun, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York in New York City
Kyunghee Pyun is an Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. Her scholarship focuses on history of collecting, reception of Asian art, diaspora of Asian artists, and Asian American visual culture. She was a Leon Levy fellow in the Center for the History of Collecting at the Frick Collection and works on a book project entitled Discerning Languages for Exotic: Collecting Asian Art. Her new book, Fashion, Identity, Power in Modern Asia focuses on modernized dress in the early 20th-century Asia and was just published by the Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. She has received the National Endowment for the Humanities for "Teaching Business and Labor History to Art and Design Students" in 2018-2021.As an independent curator, she has collaborated with Asian American artists in New York since 2013. Her recent projects include the Violated Bodies: New Languages for Justice and Humanity held at The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Postmodernism and Aesthetics: Collide or Steer currently at the Korean Cultural Center, New York, both held in 2018. Professor Pyun holds her B.A. in archaeology and art history from Seoul National University and M.A. & Ph.D. in history of art from New York University.

Leon E. Wiebers, Associate Professor, Costume Design, Marymount Loyola University
Leon Wiebers is an award-winning costume designer with productions in the United States, Off-Broadway, and internationally. He was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Research Award to South Korea examining traditional dress and performance. Recent credits: Oslo for Pioneer Theatre, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at St. Louis Rep and Cincinnati Playhouse; The Music Man at Glimmerglass Festival, Royal Opera in Oman; Gypsy and The King and I at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Empire, Man Of La Mancha at La Mirada Performing Arts; other companies include: the Hollywood Bowl; California Music Circus for over ten years and twenty productions, San Francisco Opera Center, English National Opera, Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, the National Theatre of Korea. He is a member of United Scenic Artists, 829, a national board member of the Costume Society of America, and an associate professor at Loyola Marymount University.

Session 4

Atreyee Gupta, Assistant Professor, History of Art, University of California, Berkeley
Atreyee Gupta’s area of specialization is global modernisms and contemporary art, with a special emphasis on South and Southeast Asia and its diasporas. Her research and teaching interests cluster around visual and intellectual histories of twentieth-century art; the intersections among the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement, and art after 1945; new media and experimental cinema; and the question of the global more broadly. Gupta is presently completing Non-Aligned: Decolonization, Modernism, and the Third World Project, India ca. 1930–1960, a book on the artistic and intellectual resonances of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War era and the interwar anti-colonial Afro-Asian networks that preceded it. Her coedited books include Postwar – A Global Art History, 1945–1965 (with Okwui Enwezor) and Global Modernism/s: Infrastructures of Contiguities, ca. 1905–1965 (with Hannah Baader and Patrick Flores). The former emerges from the international conference, Postwar - Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965, co-convened at Haus der Kunst, Munich with Enwezor and Ulrich Wilmes. The latter emerges from the international conference Global Modernisms: Contiguities, Infrastructures, and Aesthetic Practices, which she co-convened at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Culture) in Berlin with Baader and Flores. Gupta’s essays have appeared in edited volumes, exhibition catalogs, and journals such as Yishu, Art Journal, and Third Text.

Sunglim Kim, Associate Professor, Art History, Dartmouth College
Sunglim Kim is Associate Professor of Korean art history at Dartmouth College. Her research interests include material and consumer culture of the Joseon dynasty, emergence of the jungin class and its contribution to art, and women and gender issues in Korean art. She is the author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogues. Her book, Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets: The Culture of Objects in Late Chosŏn Korean Art, was published by the University of Washington Press (2018). She is currently working on a second book, on the subject of Korean women artists. She has curated several Korean art exhibitions including the most recent traveling exhibition, The Power and Pleasure of Possessions in Korean Painted Screens. Her next traveling exhibition is on the contemporary Korean monochrome ink painter, Park Dae-sung.

Kyeongmi Joo, Chungnam National University
Kyeongmi Joo is Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Chungnam National University, Daejeon, South Korea. She completed her ph. D. in Art History at Seoul National University in 2002. She specialized in the history of arts and crafts of East Asia and is currently serving as an associate member of the Committee of Cultural Heritage at the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. She has conducted research on various topics related to Buddhist arts, cultural transmissions and variations in East Asia. Among her numerous publications on Korean metalwork and decorative arts, the following books include her works: Kyunghee Pyun & Aida Yuen Wong (eds.), Fashion, Identity, and Power in Modern Asia, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018; Youn-Mi Kim (ed.), New Perspectives on Early Korean Art: From Silla to Koryo, Cambridge: Early Korea Project, Korea Institute, Harvard University, 2013 (in English); and Kyeongmi Joo, Junguk godae bulsari jangeom yeongu 中國古代佛舍利莊嚴硏究 (A study of ancient Chinese Buddhist reliquaries), Seoul: Iljisa 一志社, 2003 (in Korean).

Hye-ri Oh, Assistant Professor, Art Department, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Hye-ri Oh is Assistant Professor in the Art Department, College of Fine Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her research area is the introduction of photography in Modern Asia. She was a Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow, Henry Clay Frick Department of History of Art and Architecture at University of Pittsburgh in 2014–2016. She also taught at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Oh received her Ph.D. in art history from State University of New York at Binghamton (2014) with a dissertation entitled “The Concept of Photography in Korea: The Genealogy of the Korean Conception of Sajin from the late Chosŏn Dynastic Period through Japanese Colonialism.” She earned her M.A. in Modern Art and Theory at University of Essex, England and M.F.A. in photography at Ewha Womans University in South Korea.


Timothy Tangherlini, Professor, Scandinavian Studies, UCLA
Timothy R. Tangherlini teaches folklore, literature and cultural studies at the University of California, where he is a professor in Scandinavian Section, and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He is also an affiliate of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Religious Studies Program, and a faculty member in the Center for Korean Studies and the Center for European and Eurasian Studies. He has published widely on folklore, literature, film and critical geography. His main theoretical areas of interest are folk narrative, legend, popular culture, and critical geography. His main geographic areas of interest are the Nordic region (particularly Denmark and Iceland), the United States, and Korea. He is the author of Interpreting Legend: Danish Storytellers and their Repertoires (1994), Talking Trauma. Paramedics and Their Stories (1998), and the co-editor of Nationalism and the Construction of Korean Identity (1999), and Sitings: Critical Approaches to Korean Geography (2008). He has also produced or co-produced two documentary films, Talking Trauma: Storytelling Among Paramedics (1994) and Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002).


UC Berkeley
CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
250, 300, & 310 Sutardja Dai Hall, MC 1764
Berkeley, CA 94720-1764
(510) 664-4301

The Banatao Auditorium at 310 Sutardja Dai Hall is located on the main level/third floor just past the building entrance on Hearst Avenue. The Kvamme Atrium is adjacent to the Banatao Auditorium.

Driving Directions

From San Francisco, the San Francisco airport, and point’s south on northbound Highway 101:

  • Follow U.S. 101 north and then switch to I-80 east, and take it across the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge
  • Stay left as you get off the Bay Bridge and take I-80 east heading to Berkeley & Sacramento
  • Exit I-80 onto University Avenue Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles to the western edge of the campus
  • Turn left on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From Oakland, the Oakland airport, Hayward or San Jose on northbound I-880:

  • Stay in left center lanes on I-880 when you reach downtown Oakland
  • Follow signs to I-80 east (to Berkeley)
  • Exit at University Avenue
  • Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles to the western edge of the campus
  • Turn left on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From the East Bay on eastbound Highway 24:

  • From Highway 24 exit at Telegraph Ave. and take a right on Telegraph.
  • Continue on Telegraph until it ends at the south side of campus on Bancroft.
  • Make a left on Bancroft Avenue
  • Turn right on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From the East Bay on northbound Highway 13:

  • Highway 13 ends and becomes Tunnel Road
  • Continue on Tunnel Road. Tunnel Road becomes Ashby Avenue near the Claremont Hotel. Continue on Ashby.
  • Turn right on College Avenue
  • Turn left on Bancroft Avenue
  • Turn right on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From the East Bay on I-80 bound (either East or West):

  • Exit University Avenue
  • Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles to the western edge of the campus
  • Turn left on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From the East Bay on westbound I-580:

  • Exit I-80 East (to Berkeley & Sacramento)
  • Exit at University Avenue
  • Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles to the western edge of the campus
  • Turn left on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

From the East Bay on westbound I-580:

  • Exit I-80 East (to Berkeley & Sacramento)
  • Exit at University Avenue
  • Continue east on University Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles to the western edge of the campus
  • Turn left on Oxford Street. See below for directions to Sutardja Dai Hall

To Sutardja Dai Hall:

  • From Oxford Street, turn right on Hearst Avenue
  • Continue east 5 blocks
  • Sutardja Dai Hall will be on the right at Hearst and Leroy Avenues


Parking is extremely limited on the north side of the UC Berkeley campus. Please allow extra time to navigate any campus construction zones, find parking, and arrive at the building. One- and two-hour metered street parking (coins, cash, credit) can be found on the surrounding blocks, though open spaces may be limited.

Public Transportation

The nearest BART station is Downtown Berkeley BART, followed by a scenic, slightly uphill, 15-20 minute walk to Sutardja Dai Hall. A taxi stand is located outside this BART station. A taxi fare to Sutardja Dai Hall is $5-$10. Downtown Berkeley BART also offers valet bike parking

Use the Trip Planner at to view BART and AC Transit bus routes, schedules, and fares. Look for the 65, F, or 52 AC bus lines.

Airport Shuttle

Travelers to the Bay Area can fly into either Oakland or San Francisco. The Oakland International Airport is closer to the UC Berkeley campus. A shuttle from the Oakland Airport (OAK) costs approximately $25-$40. A shuttle from the San Francisco Airport (SFO) costs approximately $40-$70. For shuttle transport from either airport, call the shuttle service at least 24 hours in advance to make a reservation and call the shuttle service again to notify them when you have landed.

  • Bayporter – (510) 864-4000 or (415) 467-1800
  • Bridge Airporter Express – (800) 300-1661
  • City Express Shuttle & Limo – (888) 874-8885
  • South & East Bay Connection – (800) 548-4664

Airport Taxi

Expect to pay approximately $45 for a taxi from the Oakland Airport to Sutardja Dai Hall or $75 for a taxi from San Francisco International airport. Traffic from either airport to the Berkeley campus can be heavy during commute hours, so please allow for extra travel time.

  • American Yellow Cab – (510) 655-2233
  • Berkeley Yellow Cab – (510) 528-9999
  • On-demand car services like Uber and Lyft are readily available throughout the Bay Area region