The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opens a special exhibition about Kumgang Mountain. [Image: The Met Facebook]

A North Korean Mountain Comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York


New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a special exhibition themed on Kumgang Mountain coinciding with the Pyeongchang Olympic Games. Located in North Korea, Kumgang Mountain has been restricted to tourists since 2008, even though it is located less than 100 miles from the Olympic Stadium. This exhibition focuses on the idea of inaccessibility and nostalgia from the perspective of the South Korean people.

The exhibition — entitled “Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art” — displays around 30 paintings depicting the “Diamond Mountain,” the most famous of which is a collection of silk paintings by Jeong Seon who revolutionized Korean painting in the 18th century. The exhibition took three years to prepare, with funding from the government and other institutions in South Korea. This exhibition opened on February 7th and runs until May 20.

The purpose of the exhibition is to promote Kumgang Mountain globally, and to introduce Korean landscape paintings to American audiences. It also commemorates the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Metropolitan Museum’s Arts of Korea Gallery, which was created in 1998 as a gift from the Korea Foundation. Oh Seung-je, the director of the Korean Cultural Services of New York, and Daniel H. Weiss, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s president, signed a long-term partnership in 2016. Along with the agreement, South Korea gave a $1 million gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to invest in permanent exhibitions in the Arts of Korea Gallery, which will promote Korea’s ancient and contemporary art in the United States.

Yeseul Oh is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and an Asan Wahshington Young fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul. She is a student of Kyunghee university in South Korea