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Former MMCA curator acquitted of defaming late artist Chun Kyung-ja

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling in favor of a former curator at the MMCA who was accused of defamation of the deceased but later acquitted, the court said Thursday.

“Beautiful Woman” by Chun Kyung-ja (Yonhap)
“Beautiful Woman” by Chun Kyung-ja (Yonhap)

The former curator, identified only as Chung, is one of six MMCA officials who were sued in 2016 by the daughter of the late artist Chun Kyung-ja.

Chun’s daughter Sumita Kim accused Chung of defaming Chun, as well as copyright infringement, in connection with the painting “Beautiful Woman.”

Chung was charged with defamation for sending writings to media outlets that supposedly claimed the painting was Chun’s, despite her denials that she had ever painted it, resulting in news stories that reflected Chung’s claims.

But a lower court found Chung not guilty, and the Supreme Court upheld that verdict.

The Supreme Court agreed that it was difficult to say that Chung had defamed the artist, even if he may have influenced the evaluation of the artwork.

The authenticity of “Beautiful Woman” had been in question since it was exhibited at the MMCA in 1991. Chun called it a fake, but the Galleries Association of Korea and Korean art appraisers conducted their own analyses and claimed that it was Chun’s work.

By Shim Woo-hyun (