Whispering Gallery: It’s Typhoon Season, Again
Winds of change are swirling in all directions. Seoul’s culture vultures cannot stop talking about who might fill the directorship vacancy atop the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Korea’s biggest cultural institution marches in lockstep with political administrations, and MMCA’s previous director, Youn Bummo, resigned halfway through his second term in mid-April. It was widely speculated that Youn—who had an academic penchant for the patriotic Minjung “people’s” art—stepped down due to his association with former center-left president Moon Jae-in. The shortlist being considered to helm the rudderless ship—comprising curators Kim Sung-hee, Kim Chan-dong, and Shim Sang-yong—meanwhile has attracted plenty of commentary about how insular and bland the candidates are. One person everyone expected to be on the list was Jiyoon Lee—known for her UK connections and international academic credentials—who was former managing director of MMCA Seoul from 2014 to 2016. In addition to candidates having to pass a rigorous exam given to all civil servants, it is said that the country’s reigning First Lady also influences the final decision. Place your bets now on who will win the race!