SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – Books by four giants of modern and contemporary Korean literature will go on display at the former presidential office and residence of Cheong Wa Dae in central Seoul beginning this week.
Hosted by the National Museum of Korean Literature, the special exhibition will be held from Thursday to Jan. 16 on the second floor of Chunchugwan, a building formerly used as a press center for journalists covering the presidential office for several decades.
It is the second program to be held at Cheong Wa Dae under a government plan to use the facility as an art center, following an exhibition of paintings by disabled artists in September.
Cheong Wa Dae was the site of the presidential office and residence for over seven decades before President Yoon Suk Yeol relocated his office to Seoul’s Yongsan area in May as a way to get closer to the people.
Since then, Cheong Wa Dae has been open to the public, drawing more than 2 million visitors so far.
“Upon hearing the government announcement that it will transform Cheong Wa Dae into a multipurpose history-cultural complex, we began preparing for this exhibition out of the thought that there should be literature in the center of the facility,” Moon Chung-hee, a renowned poet who heads the museum, said during a press briefing on the exhibition at Chunchugwan.
“It will be a great comfort and strength for the people coming to visit the exhibition, if they see that the works by the literary writers who fought against loneliness and hurt are here, survived, enduring all the years,” she said.
On display at the upcoming exhibition, with a title roughly translated as “Lee Sang, Yeom Sang-seop, Hyun Jin-geon and Yoon Dong-ju Stroll Around Cheong Wa Dae,” will be a total of 97 items, including books, original portraits of the authors, a photo and a newspaper.
One thing in common about the four literary writers is that they all lived and worked in today’s Seochon, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the capital city, located west of Gyeongbok Palace, a royal palace from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), and Cheong Wa Dae.
“We chose two novelists and two poets to meet the balance of the exhibition and intended to show the diversity of Korean literature through the two realism novelists and the modernist poet Lee Sang and Yoon Dong-ju, a pure lyric poet,” said Kwon Cheol-ho, head of the exhibition management and planning at the museum.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are rare early editions of two famous novels — “Mansejeon” (1924) and “Muyeongtap (Shadowless Tower)” (1939) by Yeom and Hyun, respectively — and “Sky, Wind, Stars and Poem” (1948), Yoon’s posthumously published book of poems. Visitors can also see covers of early Korean literary magazines that published the writers’ major works and various book illustrations by Lee Sang.
Also drawing attention is an old black-and-white photo of Lee looking straight into the camera with his close friends, novelist Park Tae-won and poet Kim So-woon.
The original photo will be shown in public for the first time as Kim’s bereaved family recently donated it to the museum, according to Kwon.
The new national museum is set to open in Seoul’s northwestern district of Eunpyeong in 2025.