The fashion faux pas has made many question the role of Korean cultural spaces

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Model Han Hye-jin poses for Vogue Korea photoshoot at Blue House Yongbingwan. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Model Han Hye-jin poses for Vogue Korea photoshoot at Blue House Yongbingwan. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A photo of one of Korea’s top models, Han Hye-jin, posing gracefully on some chairs in a hot pink halter dress at the Blue House has received heavy criticism over the past few weeks — so much so that she decided to delete comments on her Instagram account on Aug. 30, nine days after the photo went public.

What was wrong with the photo?

In the eyes of some netizens and former liberal politicians – many things.

“How can you wear that and sleep in a very important place?” A netizen wrote under the news coverage of Vogue’s latest photo shoot. “This is embarrassing,” wrote another netizen. “Don’t they know that what they are doing lowers national honor?”

Local media reported on the matter, citing anonymous fashion experts as saying, “Pose reminds people.” gisaeng” Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) female entertainer, the Korean equivalent of the geisha.

The fashion illustration was part of Han’s photo shoot with Vogue Korea for its September issue. She and a few other models took part in the shoot for a special episode of the magazine, which consisted of 32 photographs they “explored”. Hanbokor Korean traditional dress is a fashion item that captures the present and the future rather than the past.

Vogue Korea photo by Blue House [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Vogue Korea photo by Blue House [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Models in various dresses referencing traditional Korean clothing posed for photos in various corners of the Blue House, including the state guest house known as Yongbingwan where Han is sleeping. The photos were released online on Vogue’s official website and social media on August 22, and were physically published in the September issue. However, Vogue Korea deleted the photos after a few days.

On August 25, a copy of the magazine was shown at the General Assembly of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee of the National Assembly.

Democratic Party Representative Lim Jong Seong picked up a copy of Vogue magazine to question the Cultural Heritage Administration on the propriety of a photo shoot at the Blue House during the August 25 plenary session of the National Assembly's Committee on Culture, Sports and Tourism. [NEWS1]

Democratic Party Representative Lim Jong Seong picked up a copy of Vogue magazine to question the Cultural Heritage Administration on the propriety of a photo shoot at the Blue House during the August 25 plenary session of the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports and Tourism. [NEWS1]

“Do you think this is a hanbok?” he asked Democratic Party lawmaker Lim Jong-seng as he held up a copy of the magazine during the meeting. The question was to refute the explanation that the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) gave the green light for the photo shoot in the Blue House by Vogue to promote Korean cultural heritage. The photoshoot, according to CHA, was produced with Vogue as part of CHA’s annual “Visit Korean Heritage” campaign, which promotes various Korean cultural heritage through 10 different themes.

In the year On August 23, the CHA said it would “strictly apply standards to maximize the historical and symbolic significance of the Blue House when granting permission to design and use it.”

However, the controversy continued to the point where he decided to cancel the Gucci runway show scheduled to take place at Gyeongbokgung Palace in November.

According to a CHA official, CHA and Gucci Korea originally planned to hold a “Gucci Cosmogonie Fashion Show” in front of Gyeongbokgung, the Joseon Dynasty’s Gyeongbokgung Palace, a hall that used to host major national events and foreign diplomats on November 1. Cosmogoni, a luxury Italian fashion brand. It is the name of the latest collection and about 500 people are invited to attend the event.

The CHA said it approved the show after deciding it would be a great opportunity to showcase the beauty of Gyeongbokgung Palace to the world, but said, “It is difficult to continue the event in the current situation.”

Seoul Metropolitan Government  October 5, 2011 Seoul held the 2022 Spring/Summer Seoul Fashion Week at Daeksu Palace in downtown Seoul on October 5, 2011.  He used the five palaces as runways. [YONHAP]

Seoul Metropolitan Government October 5, 2011 Seoul held the 2022 Spring/Summer Seoul Fashion Week at Daeksu Palace in downtown Seoul on October 5, 2011. He used the five palaces as runways. [YONHAP]

The issue of how to use the Blue House has been hotly debated between the ruling party and the opposition, especially after President Eun Suk-yeol announced that he would move the presidential office to Yongsan in central Seoul and “give away” the Blue House. For more than seven decades, it served as the presidential office and residence and as the back garden of Gyeongbokgung Palace to the public. The issue has now gained public attention due to the Vogue photo shoot controversy.

Culture Minister Park Bo-geon announced in July that the government plans to turn the Blue House into a “multi-purpose cultural complex,” adding that the Blue House will not remain just a historical site that once housed past presidents.

The Parks Ministry said it has four main “purposes” for the Blue House: an art complex, a museum of past presidents, a high-quality arboretum and a cultural heritage site. The Palace of Versailles is used as a model, says Park, a successful model that achieves all that and is loved by visitors from around the world.

The Chanel 2013 Cruise Collection was held at the Trois Fontaines Bosquet fountains at the Chateau de Versailles on May 14, 2012. [JOONGANG PHOTO]

The Chanel 2013 Cruise Collection was held at the Trois Fontaines Bosquet fountains at the Chateau de Versailles on May 14, 2012. [JOONGANG PHOTO]

The park’s reference to the Palace of Versailles may be similar to the situation at the Blue House, then he realizes.

The Palace of Versailles or Château de Versailles has been known for hosting various fashion shows since the historic Battle of Versailles in 1973 and modern art exhibitions that have created some buzz along the way.

One of the most striking exhibitions was Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s cartoons in a French palace in 2010, juxtaposed against the Baroque and Rococo interiors of Versailles. One of Louis XIV’s descendants filed an order to stop the exhibition, saying it was Murakami’s kind of brilliant manga. A work that destroys the memory of the ancestors and “depresses” French culture.

In the year In 2008, another Louis XIV native sued US artist Jeff Koons to shut down an exhibition, but a French court dismissed the suit.

Former Chateau de Versailles President Jean-Jacques Ailagon In an interview with Korea’s Jungang Daily during a visit to Seoul in 2010, Louis XIV’s descendants are creating issues, but “they have no rights over the Chateau de Versailles.” It is a French people.

Ailagon was president of Versailles until October 2011. From 2002 to 2004, he served as France’s Minister of Culture.

Takashi Murakami's

Takashi Murakami’s “Oval Buddha” went on display at the Château de Versailles in 2010. [CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES]

During his tenure, Ilagon initiated solo exhibitions of sensational contemporary artists such as Murakami and Koons. He said the reason for this was to attract more local visitors as well as the younger generation and the aim was successful.

“It is important for the palace where the past stories and old artifacts are stored to serve as a place for new innovations for our time,” he said.

Torn between preserving the palaces and modernizing them, Korean officials said it was inevitable that the government would be cautious about what to do. [the palaces] So that the future generations can see the cultural heritage. But they should not be a dead place or a place of the past. Living culture should be in them. Hosting high-quality cultural events in former palaces can be a way to help them become a place to live.

Design critic Choi Beom says this is why the non-royal Blue House should not be criticized for hosting such a cultural event.

“The blue house is not a sacred place,” he said. “I am not saying that the place that served as the office and residence of the President for seven decades is not important. It has historical significance. I am not saying that it is a hallowed ground where people tremble for fear of harming its glory. It is a cultural heritage so we should protect it carefully but at the same time use it actively.

Choi said the main reason why there are so many complaints about using the Blue House, or the Joseon dynasty’s old palace, is because many Koreans are “still sentimental about the Joseon dynasty.”

“They live in the Republic of Korea but at the same time they seem to remember Joseon,” he said.

The Sejong Hall in the Blue House headquarters building

The Sejong Hall in the Blue House main office building has a painting of “Ilwolobongdo” by artist Song Kyu Tae. Ilwolobongdo is the famous iconography of the sun, moon and five points representing power and eternity. It sits behind the thrones of the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). [MOON SO-YOUNG]

A few hours after Vogue Korea posted the photos online, former protocol secretary to President Moon Jae-in, Tak Eun-min, wrote on his Facebook page: “Like Japan turned Changgyeong Palace into a zoo, planting sakura trees and waving cherry blossoms for the opening night ceremony.” Branches, Yeon Suk-yeol’s administration seems to be doing all sorts of ridiculous things during the Blue House and Yongsan’s tenure.

Choi said Thak’s comment likened the Blue House to a royal palace and a sacred place where people should behave appropriately.
“It’s an anachronism,” he said. “The Blue House or the old castles I think, although we don’t say it out loud, theme parks to be more straightforward. People should stop getting caught up in Joseon’s authoritarianism and nostalgia.

Beim Seung-hye [yim.seunghye@joongang.co.kr]



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