[EDITORIALS]Cultural ineptitudeThe British Museum is exhibiting North Korean propaganda material, and it is even more incomprehensible that the display is located in the lobby adjacent to the Korea Foundation Gallery, which was opened with a $1.7 million endowment from the Seoul-based Korea Foundation. One North Korean exhibit has a slogan wishing eternal life for "Our Great Leader Kim Il-Sung."
The exhibitions at museums are the responsibility of the curators, and the British Museum is an independent body. An agreement between the museum and the Korea Foundation stipulates that the artifacts exhibited there must be identified as being from Korea, not South Korea or North Korea.
The Korea Foundation suggested in November 2000, when the Korea Foundation Gallery was opened, that they would prefer to have some materials related to the Korean Peninsula displayed nearby, so the museum is not to blame for the North Korean display, whether or not you accept its assertion that there was no political motivation behind the decision to exhibit the materials.
Officials at the Korean Embassy in London and the Korea Foundation have shown both incompetence and indifference in this matter. The British Museum director, Robert Anderson, said in Seoul last September that the museum was planning to exhibit 30 North Korean modern art works in the lobby near the Korea Foundation Gallery. But the Korea Foundation apparently did not follow up with Mr. Anderson on just what type of North Korean "art" was to be displayed.
The Korean Embassy in London looks equally hopeless. After some visitors to the museum informed it of the exhibition, the foundation drafted a letter to the museum saying it regretted the display of the North Korean exhibit. The embassy apparently was unaware of the display or thought it was outside its jurisdiction.
The British Museum is one of the three major museums in the world and attracts over 6 million visitors every year. The value of the Korea Gallery there cannot be overestimated.
The government should reinstate the cultural office at the London Embassy that was abolished during the financial crisis.