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[Newsmaker] Transition team denies report of first lady leading Cheong Wa Dae exhibition

Kim Keon-hee, wife of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, apologizes on Dec. 26 for fabricating her work experience. (Yonhap)
Kim Keon-hee, wife of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, apologizes on Dec. 26 for fabricating her work experience. (Yonhap)

The presidential transition team’s vice spokesperson on Wednesday denied a report that President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s wife, Kim Keon-hee, might lead an art exhibition at Cheong Wa Dae.

It refuted a Yonhap report on Wednesday which quoted an aide to Kim saying that the incoming first lady could categorize artworks owned by Cheong Wa Dae and introduce them to the public.

“It’s only a natural idea that Kim, who has expertise in art curation, helps open the art collection of Cheong Wa Dae to the public. It is also in line with Yoon’s promise to return Cheong Wa Dae to the people’s arms,” an official at Yoon’s transition team was quoted as saying.

However, a vice spokesperson of Yoon’s transition team told The Korea Herald that the idea was never discussed and that it is something to be dealt with only after the inauguration.

Kim, president of Covana Contents, an art exhibition company, has curated several exhibitions, including those for Mark Rothko, Le Corbusier and Alberto Giacometti.

Kim was reportedly considering halting Covana’s operations or switching its business to focus on public services as she vowed to “silently” support her husband, helping “create the best environment for him to handle his work” amid controversy that she had exaggerated her credentials on her resume.

Cheong Wa Dae owns about 600 art pieces, 16 of which were shown to the public during a rare exhibition held by the Moon Jae-in government from May to July 2018.

Cheong Wa Dae extensively collected artwork in the 1960s and the 1970s at the annual government-backed art exhibitions. Purchases were also made in 1978 to decorate the State Guest House and in 1991 to decorate the main building.

Cheong Wa Dae is slated to open to the public after the inauguration ceremony on May 10, according to Rep. Yoon Han-hong, chief of the task force on the presidential office relocation. The task force earlier this week said that various cultural events will be held from May 10 to 22 at the compound.

During his presidential campaign, Yoon promised to move the presidential office out of Cheong Wa Dae and to fully open the historic compound to the public. The new presidential office is being set up inside what is now the Defense Ministry compound in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

For an exhibition of Cheong Wa Dae’s art collection, a state property, to take place, the transition team will be required to consult with the related ministries such as the Ministry of Interior and Safety.



(gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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