Curator Resigns From South Korean Museum Over Sexual Harassment Claims

Youngjune Hahm has apologized for his actions.

The Ilmin Museum of Art and Youngjune Hahm. Courtesy of the Ilmin Museum of Art.
The Ilmin Museum of Art and Youngjune Hahm. Courtesy of the Ilmin Museum of Art.

Youngjune Hahm has stepped down as chief curator of Seoul’s Ilmin Museum of Art in the wake of sexual harassment claims, ArtAsiaPacific reports.

The allegations against Hahm were made on various social media sites, and they are part of a larger airing of grievances against prominent male South Korean cultural figures, including novelist Park Bum-shin and poet Park Jin-seong.

One of Hahm’s accusers is fashion photographer and artist Soma Kim, who wrote in detail on Evernote in October about how the curator harassed her and once touched her inappropriately. Other allegations have been made on Twitter.

Hahm has made three statements on Evernote and Facebook in response to his accusers. On October 22, he apologized to Kim, acknowledging he had behaved wrongly. “In many ways, I have been advocating feminism [in my professional life], however in reality I have not been able to lead such a life. I apologize for the hypocritical behavior,” he wrote. “I apologize to those who have been hurt by my unscrupulous behavior.”

The next day, however, he denied one woman’s account of assault, claiming that she had been drunk and covered in vomit. He and his girlfriend were just changing her clothes, Hahm insisted, writing, “I hope [the alleged victim] will remember correctly and tell the truth.”

A third statement followed, in which Hahm admitted he had abused his post as curator and professor. In his apology, Hahm announced that he would resign his post and seek counseling.

According to the Korea Herald, about a dozen art students protested again Hahm in front of Ilmin Museum in Gwanghwamun on October 24. A privately run institution established in 1994, the Ilmin Museum is currently showing a solo exhibition, titled “Closer… Come Closer,” of avant-garde Korean modernist Kim Yong-ik.


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