National Museum Of Korean Contemporary History

Special Exhibition

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The Portrait of Youth

The Portrait of Youth

Special Exhibition Hall (3rd Fl.),
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History

September 22 (Fri) – November 13 (Mon), 2017

  • Price : Free
  • Hours :10:00 – 18:00
    Opening hours will be extended to nine o’clock in the evening on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
    (Last admission is one hour before the closing time.)
  • For additional inquiries call : +82-02-3703-9200

Opening the Exhibition


While youth by definition refers to young people, the term has always held great historical significance. In Korean contemporary history, youth have often been seen as those who pursue goals such as innovation or progress, critique and resistance. This is closely related to the contemporary history of Korea and how young people had to go through turbulent times.

Examining the various images of youth in history according to their generational circumstances will not only shed new light on Korean contemporary history but also give us a deeper understanding of youth issues today.

In this exhibition, we seek to revisit images of youth which have changed with the flow of history, focusing especially on artworks. While the artists each created their work from their own perspective and with unique ideas, the artworks still display characteristics of the era in which the artist and artwork belong. Thus, through these artworks, we can vividly encounter reflections of youth in each generation via visual images.

Looking back at the status of youth through artworks, based on chronology and historical periodization, this exhibition will also prompt us to examine the status of youth in Korean society today. Through this, we hope the discourse on youth in our age will go beyond mere comfort and consolation, or self-deprecation, and be able to speak of hope.
Youth, the Icon of Modernity
The paintings in Part I show young Korean people in the late 19th century when Korea was opening its ports to the outside world and the following colonial period (1910-1945). Korean youth during this period were depicted as explorers of a new civilization and fighters struggling for the restoration of Korean independence as well as messengers of the new cultural vogue.
War and Youth
The paintings in Part II depict Korean youth bearing the burdens of history as soldiers, intellectuals and breadwinners in a society devastated by the Korean War.
Resistance and Youth Culture
The paintings in Part III represent Korean young people between the 1960s and 1980s as the producers and enjoyers of new youth culture as well as fighters against dictatorship.
The New Generation, Youth in a Diversified Society
The paintings in Part VI are focused on the status of youth in Korean society after the successful democratization movement and the arrival of consumer culture in the 1990s.
Individualized Youth, They Are Not the Same
The paintings in Part V depict Korean young people facing difficult situations caused by the 1997 Asian financial crisis that struck down hard on Korea and their struggles to overcome the situation for a brighter future.