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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2001

Art academy's Korean festival helps broaden view of culture

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Outside, in the courtyard, a 12-year-old blond boy with green eyes wondered about his Korean heritage as he drew black stripes on a yellow paper tiger.

Susan Park, left, and Cynthia Lee of the Halla Pai Huhm Korean Dance Studio watch a performance at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Korean Festival.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Inside, an 18th century tiger on a scroll stood guard over a collection of art and artifacts in a brand-new Korean Gallery at the Honolulu Academy of Art.

Twelve-year-old Howard Hoddick of Honolulu, who is one-fourth Korean, said he came to the Academy's Korean Cultural Festival yesterday with his mother, Cynthia, and 6-year-old twin brothers, Jeffrey and Joseph, to extend his understanding of the kingdom where his great-grandmother was born.

"Korean," the Punahou 6th-grader said, makes him think of Korean food, such as cucumbers and kimchi, and of a war in the 1950s.

He said he knows Korea is more than that, and he wants to discover the rest.

Many Westerners have an even narrower view of Korea, said Seungeun Euna Yoo, a member of the cultural exchange team sent to Honolulu from Seoul this week by the Korea Foundation. The Foundation was the major contributor for the creation of the new gallery.

"Many think of Korea primarily as a nation of very hardworking, and poor, people," an image that was accurate right after the war between North and South Korea almost 50 years ago, she said.

Joseph Hoddick, 6, made a leopard at the Korean Cultural Festival at the Honolulu Academy of Art.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

Today, however, "(South) Korea is one of the wealthy nations of Asia, a country that others, such as Vietnam, look to as an example of economic development," Yoo said.

Wealthy enough that the foundation made a $400,000 gift to the academy for the creation of the new gallery, one of many such gifts for the establishment of Korean galleries in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the Musee Guimet in Paris, and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Such galleries, she said, are reminding the West of Korea's rich cultural background, displayed yesterday in the academy's new gallery by pieces such as the 18th century folk painting of a tiger, and the 12th century Koryo dynasty cup stand of celadon in a haunting shade of blue-green that has never been duplicated.

Honolulu already has one of the best collections of Korean art outside the country itself, Yoo said; the new gallery makes possible better display of those works as well as new acquisitions.

More than 1,300 visited the academy yesterday for programs of music and dance, and to see a special exhibit of traditional Korean costumes that will remain on display through October.