Resilience and imagination: Women and art in Korea today

The feminist movement in Korean art began in the mid-1980s. The well-known Chon Kyung Ja was active in the 1960s exploring her female identity, and in the 1970s the group Expression was formed; during these years, the artists involved, who are now considered female artists rather than feminists, were mostly interested in expressing the lives and inner worlds of women using figurative images. By the 1980s, female artists affiliated with the Minjung or People’s Art movement were working to actively improve the status and human rights of lower class women and, in this sense, we consider them as the beginning of Korean feminist art.  Around the same time, a group of middle class women including Yun Suk Nam, while criticising palo-centralism and sexual discrimination against women, continued to employ the stereotypical female imagery of mother and wife formed by the long-standing Confucian society. Both feminist tendencies of the 1980s chose figuration as their main method of expression.

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