Director of Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Resigns, Again

This is her second resignation from the museum, following corruption scandals surrounding her family.

Hong Ra-Hee is resigning for the second time from the Leeum Samsung Museum. Photo JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images.
Hong Ra-Hee is resigning for the second time from the Leeum Samsung Museum. Photo JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images.

Hong Ra-hee, director of the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul has resigned from her post at the museum for the second time, with many citing her son’s recent indictment for fraud as the reason.

Hong resigned from her post at the museum once before, in 2008, after her husband Lee Kun-hee, chairman of the Samsung Group, faced corruption charges, according to Art Asia Pacific.

Hong’s resignation was made official yesterday, as was her resignation from the private Ho-Am Art Museum in Yongin, that houses the private collection of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.

Her resignation comes after it was announced earlier this year that her son Lee Jae-yong was being indicted for bribery and embezzlement, as part of a widening investigation following the impeachment of Korean President Park Geun-hye in December 2016.

“We haven’t heard anything about why she is resigning,” an official from the Ho-Am Art Museum told the Yonhap News Agency, adding that it hasn’t been decided who will replace her.

Lee senior is said to be bedridden and, with her only son being imprisoned, it is thought that the directorship of both museums had become too much for Hong.

The electronics company Samsung Group is the largest family-owned conglomerate in South Korea. Lee junior, son of Hong and Lee, was until these recent charges the acting head of the Samsung Group.

In April 2008, Lee senior was charged with tax evasion and found to have a “slush fund” of around $60 million, which the couple are accused of using to buy art—including Roy Lichenstein’s Happy Tears (1964), which, according to the artnet Price Database, was sold at auction in 2002 at Christie’s New York for $7.1 million.

Following the charges, Hong—a highly influential member of the art world in South Korea—resigned and then returned to the post in 2011.


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