One of Korea’s best known painters, Lee Jung-seob, spent time here in Jeju. His artistic passion never subsided, even during the Korean War. The (이중섭) Lee Jung-seob Art Museum in Seogwipo has organized a special exhibition to help visitors understand his intensity. Kim Minoe has more.


‘Baby in the Springtime’

A naked baby chases a yellow butterfly against a warm, cozy background - no harsh winds, and no scorching heat, either.

60 years ago, during the Korean War, Lee Jung-seob chose not to forgo his painting. His soul never ceased to burn with passion for art.

Following the ceasefire agreement between the two Koreas, Lee held a private exhibition in January, 1955 at the gallery in the (미도파) Midopa Department Store in Seoul.

Some sources say he displayed 32 works of art, and others say 45.

What would an exhibition like his have been like during such a harsh time?

‘Imagination: Seoul in 1955’ at Lee Jung-seob Art Museum

A special exhibition titled ‘Imagination: Seoul in 1955,’ reproduces the exhibition held at that gallery way back in 1955. It is currently underway at the Lee Jung-seob Art Museum.

Ho Yeong-a / Curator
Lee Jung-seob was hoping to meet his family in Japan and did his best to prepare for the exhibit. Newspapers praised his work, and this 1955 show was a significant milestone in his life. We can better understand his art through this exhibition.
<인터뷰: 호영아/학예연구사>
"작가는 이 전시를 준비하면서 일본에 있는 가족과 만나기를 희망했고 최선을 다했습니다. 언론에서도 호평을 받았습니다. 작가에게 있어 매우 중요한 전시였기 때문에 작가의 작품세계를 좀 더 이해해보고자 기획하게 되었습니다."

55 reproductions on display

55 reproductions of Lee’s paintings, which were likely shown at the 1955 exhibition, are on display.

They include 45 oil painting reproductions and 10 paintings done on the aluminum foil found inside cigarette packs.

Letters Lee sent to his wife and friends are also being displayed,

Letters, visitor registry on display

and a visitor registry shows the relationship he had with other artist friends.

Poet friend (김광균) Kim Gwang-gyun wrote “I want to pat Lee Jung-seop on the back for enthusiastically pushing forward with his art during a time of war.”

Such quotes show how hard it can be to focus on art during war.

But it was Lee’s passion for art that kept him from falling into despair during such difficult times.

[Reporter] Kim Minhoe
[Camera] Park Byeong-joon

Visitors can explore Lee’s passion and world of art through February 4th.

Kim Minhoe, KCTV