Gyeongju Bomun Tourist Complex is the first comprehensive tourist complex in Korea to be directly managed by the Gyeongbuk Tourism Organization, providing a fun playground for young and old alike. And there is a striking museum in the center here: the Kidult Museum. The museum is a much sought-after attraction in Gyeongju. Monthly PowerKorea met with Museum curator Dongil Kim and heard about his big plans, ambitions, and the process. He will be working on a project with artist Bosun Kim, who is also a prolific poet and painter. Below is a mini-interview between the two.
A better place with more diverse cultural contents
The Kidult Museum is a space with more than 50,000 objects, ranging from classic items to trendy art toys to meet the needs of adults, and is a place where both children and adults can relate to and enjoy. From the first projector used in Europe 200 years ago, when there was no electricity, to countless movie posters and music, character radios, dioramas, figurines, and upcycling, to a reporter who visited the museum, it was more than just a museum but a collection of Korean culture. Museum curator Dongil Kim said “It was created to provide emotional stability and stress relief for adults who want to lead a joyful life. By displaying items that are nostalgic and evoke memories of childhood, we hope to increase their well-being. The exhibits represent only 20% of the museum’s collection, with 80% stored in storage. We want to build a more colorful cultural complex in a better space to welcome more tourists.”
Q. From your previous posts, it seems that you’ve always been an avid collector?
Dongil Kim. I’ve always loved collecting. I started out collecting movie scores, and then it kind of branched out. I think of it as collecting memories. If you look at the toys we played with as kids and you look at them in 10 or 20 years, they’re very new. I’ve been collecting those things for 45 years. I used to do architectural interiors, so props, big and small, phonographs, projectors were props in restaurant interiors.
Q. You have artist Bosun Kim on board for your upcoming cultural project?
Bosun Kim. I had a deep conversation with him, and I felt that our mindsets and ideas about creating a cultural complex were aligned, because cultural content is something that you can’t do alone, right? There was a belief that if we worked together, we could create a great culture.
Dongil Kim. It takes a lot of strength from painters to dress and color each piece, making it more relatable to the public. Kim is also a poet, so I thought it would be a much better cultural space if we included literature along with art. We are very similar in our thinking, and I think it’s important to create a playground-like space that everyone can enjoy together.
Bosun Kim. I think he’s a genius, and I admire his artistic acumen. Even now, when I visit this museum, I’m always surprised to see things that remind me of Namjune Paik, who is a master of media art. In a way, it motivates me to think that I want to do something like this.
Q. Please tell us what you are looking for in a cultural complex project.
Dongil Kim. Personally, my goal is to create a world-class museum and give back to society. I’ve collected a lot and people come and enjoy the time watching the collections. I think something good is coming soon. The new museum will be an extension of the Kidult museum. I want to create a museum where everyone can see and enjoy a lot.
Bosun Kim. We are planning to expand the museum to several locations with a combination of retro and modern. It will be a good stage for not only Koreans but also foreigners to see the cultural contents of various countries at a glance. If you look at the Kidult Museum alone, it is not just a general exhibition, but a story, right? This sense of creating a work of art with the accessories of an unusable TV is the best art and the best value in my opinion.
Q. I’m also excited about the gallery that will accompany the museum.
Dongil Kim. I want it to be a gallery where you can feel and buy a work or two, not just look at it. A gallery with a soft and human touch, a gallery where families can travel and see the artwork, where they want to hang it in their son’s house, where they want to hang it in their grandchildren’s house, and where they can find more international artwork. That’s why I’m communicating with Kim, an artist who works both domestically and internationally.
Bosun Kim. We are planning to make it easier to purchase products designed by the museum like BTS and Squid Game products, which are popular nowadays, so that artists’ products can also be marketed and become more widely available.
Dongil Kim. The door is open to anyone who has the same mindset, the same philosophy. There are a lot of great painters in Korea.
Q. I’m sure there will be a lot of enthusiasm for upcycled works.
Dongil Kim. Upcycling is educational because it creates eco-friendly pieces out of discarded products, and we get a lot of requests from different organizations. We want to be a museum that can play a more diverse role, which is what we are doing by prioritizing the environment.
Q. Finally, what’s next plan for the second half of the year?
Dongil Kim. The plan is to meet good people and make good things happen. I hope to meet a lot of people so we can build a fun museum together. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a special shout out to artist Kim. All the things and ideas that come out of her fingertips are invaluable. I hope that Kim will help me a lot and fill in the gaps that I feel I am lacking.
Bosun Kim. His ideas are ones I have a lot to learn from, and I’d love to help out wherever I can, both artistically and operationally, so I hope you’ll give him your time and support.
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