How does one begin to summarize 9000 years of artistic achievements? Domestic support for both traditional and modern arts has experienced a resurgence in recent years, and demand by Western audiences for Korean art in all its forms continues to rise.
Traditional Korean arts most likely began with pottery before expanding to include Buddhist murals painted on stone tombs. Confucian art found its highest form of expression in calligraphy during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), and a national style of painting developed around the same time. Numerous other forms of art soon flourished, including fabric costumes and screens, folded paper fans and figures, architecture, landscaping, and flower arrangement.
Cinema is perhaps Korea’s best known contemporary art, with films such as Shiri, Oasis, Old Boy, and I Saw the Devil having been embraced by Western audiences. Literature, too, has found the international spotlight, with Kyung-sook Shin’s Please Look After Mom recently becoming the first Korean novel to appear on the New York Times bestseller list. The future of Korean art looks to be as bright as its past.