Park depicted birthing her father

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Park depicted birthing her father

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A painting, titled “Golden Time - Dr. Choi In-hyeok Giving a Military Salute to a Newborn Mr. President,” by artist Hong Sung-dam. From the Peace Museum’s Web site


A painting by an acclaimed political artist depicting presidential candidate Park Geun-hye as a mother giving birth to a baby Park Chung Hee, her father, stirred up controversy. The ruling Saenuri Party even threatened legal measures against the painter.

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교수대 위에서 ‘말춤’을 추는 박 후보를 그린 ‘바리깡-우리는 유신스타일!’이다. 이들 작품은 서울 견지동 ‘스페이스99’에 전시 중이다. [사진 평화박물관 홈페이지]

Hong Sung-dam, one of the most renowned members of the Minjung art movement, known for their messages of democratization and reunification, presented the painting at an exhibition at the Peace Museum in central Seoul.

The exhibition was to mark the 40th anniversary of the constitutional amendment by Park’s father - late strongman Park Chung Hee - to extend his rule almost indefinitely.

At the exhibition, the 57-year-old painter presented the painting, titled “Golden Time - Dr. Choi In-hyeok Giving a Military Salute to a Newborn Mr. President.”

In the painting, Park Geun-hye is in a delivery room with her legs spread, smiling at a newborn baby. A notepad, a trademark of Park’s, has been dropped under the delivery chair. The baby wears a pair of black sunglasses, which was a trademark of Park Chung Hee.

On the left, a doctor salutes the baby. As described in the title, the doctor is Dr. Choi In-hyeok, a protagonist from the popular TV show “Golden Time” aired by the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation.

The artist appears to be saying that MBC is pledging its loyalty to Park. The exhibition began on Nov. 10 at the Peace Museum, jointly headed by senior members of the progressive community, including renowned political critic Paik Nak-chung.

After the painting caused a commotion, Hong told the JoongAng Ilbo that “I wanted to take off the mask from Park’s mysticism of virginity and femininity.”

He also said “Park was never married, so the image of a virgin is added to the mysticism surrounding her. I’d rather she went ahead and had affairs and had a child so that she can escape from that strange mysticism.”

The art community was split over the freedom of expression and the limit of political satire.

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“This particular painting puts more emphasis on the intention of distorting and exaggerating emotions to shock and irritate viewers,” said Kang Su-mi, a professor of aesthetics at the Korean National University of Arts.

Another expert, however, said it was an acceptable political satire. “The painting was criticizing the way her father rewrote the Constitution,” said Youn Bum-mo, art professor at Gachon University. “In Korea, we don’t have much satirical art, and it is noticeable that this piece was making an attempt.”

The controversy surrounding the painting also spread rapidly through social networking services and Internet users were also split in their responses.

The Saenuri Party reacted sensitively to the painting.

“The artist insulted childbirth, a woman’s most sacred moment, to disgrace Park,” said Ahn Hyoung-hwan, spokesman of the Saenuri Party’s election committee. “Art must not be abused as a tool of political propaganda.”

Kwon Young-se, a senior manager of the Park campaign, also said yesterday that Hong humiliated the country’s women and many other people.

“The people know that freedom of expression comes with a limit. The election committee will strongly counter Hong’s painting with all possible legal measures by representing Park and female citizens.”

A group of female lawmakers of the Saenuri Party also held a press conference yesterday and asked the National Election Commission to take action against Hong’s painting.

By Kwon Geun-young, Sohn Guk-hee [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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