Clean up Art ExhibitionThe bribery scandal surrounding the Grand Art Exhibition of Korea was predicted already, when the art community was split over the election of the Korean Fine Arts Association. The National Police Agency said it will seek legal action against the former and current officials of the fine arts association, which hosts the competition, and some art professors, on charges of giving awards in return for money.
The head of the Korean Fine Arts Association has a three-year tenure, and we hear of scandals regarding corrupt elections, such as paying membership fees and giving memberships to unfit artists in return for votes. The Grand Art Exhibition of Korea has long been marred with unfair selection based on regional and school ties and bribery. It was confirmed again that the corrupt election and the unfair evaluation were two sides of the same coin.
The Grand Art Exhibition of Korea succeeded the national art competition that began in 1949. It is the largest competition, with the longest history, in Korea. Although its reputation has faded a bit, it is the only contest among the 600 art competitions nationwide that receives funding from Arts Council Korea. Nonetheless, the competition failed to discover talented artists and was riddled with by scandals, such as bribery and submission of art work created by other people. Based on this situation, it is only natural to end the competition. Because of the long-rooted scandals, respected members of the art community have been reluctant to serve as judges.
According to the police, some judges of the competition’s scholastic paintings category stayed in a hotel to memorize photographs of the works submitted by friends and pupils of the fine arts association officials. After doing so, the judges selected the art works at the competition to receive awards. During the process, money was inevitably involved. There are 121 people involved in various illegal acts associated with the exhibition, and the police are seeking detention warrants for nine. We should get rid of the Grand Art Exhibition of Korea. At the very least, the Fine Arts Association must immediately take its hands off it. Until 2005, Arts Council Korea provided 120 million won ($129,870) annually to the competition. Last year, another 100 million won was funded. The council must not provide the 80 million won of budget set aside for this year. There is no reason to spend one coin of taxpayer money to fund the corruption-ridden art competition.