The Ilmin Museum of Art is currently hosting an interesting exhibit that showcases Korean advertisements from the past 120 years. The art is showcased on all three floors of the museum with the first floor devoted to the historical advertisements, the second floor focused on the eight keywords of advertising, and the third floor themed hyper realism. At only W2,000 Confession: Advertisement, Art and the Public is worth a visit. The exhibit will be held until August 19th and participating artists include: Lee Wan, Kim Shin-hye, Cho Kyung-ran, Nanda, Kwon Woo-yeol, Kwon Kyung-hwan, Seo Chan-suk, Shin Gyung-jin, Kim Su-young, Choi Dusu and Kim Hyuen-jun.
The first floor showcases advertisements from 1876 to the present day. The walls are covered in black and red renditions advertising everything from soap and cigarettes to beer and tea. The advertisements are not only in Korean but there are also English articles that showed up in the Dongrip (Independence) Daily and Japanese advertisements as well. Upon entrance we were given an English translation of the history of these advertisements which gives a good amount of detail on where the ideas and style of the advertisements were coming from at the time.
Between 1876 and 1910, the time when Korea opened its ports to the time when Korea was annexed to Japan, was the beginning of modern advertising in Korea. During this time formats such as the billboard, comparative ad, advocacy ad, New Year’s celebration ad, signage, and direct mail among others were introduced to the country. Upon being annexed to Japan, styles and practices changed and adopted a more Japanese attitude toward the advertising system. This was also the time when Donga Daily and the Chosun Daily were started in the country which promoted more political campaigns and administration promotions which proved the importance of advertising among the general public. By 1940 these papers were forced to close and the advertisements coming from Japan outnumbered those from Korea. People admired the Western modernism through false images instead of in person experience and walking the streets in Western-style suits and hats was considered what people should do in order to become modern. During WWII a tax was imposed on advertising. Sponsors paid for adds to pray for victory and full page ads in newspapers, luxury ads and neon light ads were all prohibited.
After the war, it wasn’t until 1960 that the first ad magazine was published in Korea. “The Ad Planning Division established at Hapdong News Agency served as a prelude to the era of an active ad industry centered around advertising agencies.” From this time advertising comes into the modern era and is pretty much the same as it is today.
The second and third floor of the museum focus on the eight keywords of advertisements: Success, Future, Identity, Trust, Sexuality, Super Power, Narrative, and Hyper Realism.
Getting there: Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5 or City Hall Station, Line 1/2
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday 11AM – 7PM Sunday & Holidays 11AM-7PM Closed on Mondays