Culture Ministry fails to pick MMCA leader

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Culture Ministry fails to pick MMCA leader

All three of Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) branches will continue to operate without a director for the time being, triggering concerns in the country’s art circuit as the establishment has lacked official leadership for eight months.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced on Tuesday that it believes none of the current candidates who made it through the hiring process, which began in January, are eligible for the post. It cited the country’s enforcement ordinance stipulating that if the central government deems there are no eligible candidates, it can choose not to hire anyone at all.

The position has been vacant since the ministry dismissed Chung Hyung-min in October amid allegations she abused her authority and interfered in the recruitment process of the museum’s new curators.

Sources within the country’s art world have said that two of the final candidates being considered for the post were Yoon Jin-seop, an art critic and professor at Honam University and Choi Hyo-jun, the former director of Deoksugung National Museum of Art at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (one of the three MMCA branches) and the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art.

Kim Mi-yeon, an official at the ministry’s visual arts design division, told the Korea JoongAng Daily that the candidates were deemed unsuitable after opinions from within the art world and the ministry were collected.

She added that the ministry cannot disclose further details over concerns regarding the privacy and reputations of the candidates.

The ministry had said earlier this year that the post would be filled by early March. The date was then pushed to April, indicating difficulties finding the right person.

The position for the director of the Korea National Opera has also been vacant for 14 months, and the Korea Tourism Organization has been without a president for two months. Both institutions operate under the Culture Ministry.

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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