Working in and with Korea


In 1992, the sponsorship of Samsung enabled the V&A to open the first gallery in London dedicated to Korean art. The Korean Gallery showcases the Museum’s strong Korean collection built since 1888, and spanning from the Three Kingdoms (37 BC-668 AD) to the present day. Among the displayed objects are a rare gilded celadon stand, a slate burial chest, a Joseon official court garment, bronze wares, lacquer wares, and Park Young Sook’s monumental vessel Moon Jar. The 20th anniversary of the Korean Gallery was marked in 2012 with an Orientations article by Beth McKillop and Pauline LeMoigne.

Korean ceramics, both historical and contemporary, also feature prominently in the V&A’s new Ceramics Galleries.

In November 2012, Dr. Rosalie Kim was appointed as the V&A’s Samsung Curator of Korean Art, the first full-time curator for the Korean collection. This appointment has brought significant changes to the Museum’s engagement with and presentation of Korean culture. Support from Samsung has also enabled several new acquisitions including Chung Hae Cho’s lustrous lacquer bowls, and Kim Youngjin’s elegant contemporary hanboks as well as an update of videos in the Korean Gallery. The videos on lacquer in particular were the most popular videos ever made by the Museum at the time of their creation, and were selected to be part of the British Airways V&A channel.


At the V&A

The V&A has been presenting displays on Korean art since the 1960s. In 1961, the V&A displayed The National Art Treasures of Korea, the first exhibition of its kind to be held in Europe. Organised by Dr. Kim Jae-Won, the first Director of the National Museum of Korea (1945-1970), and coordinated by the British connoisseur of Korean art Godfrey St. G. M. Gompertz (1904-1992), the seminal exhibition presented an impressive display of 152 works representing the finest achievements of Korean art.

Recent shows at the V&A include:

  • Tradition Transformed (2011): This was a display in the Ceramics gallery of contemporary Korean ceramics, curated by Emeritus Professor Cho Chung-Hyun of Ewha Womans University.

In Korea

  • Owen Jones: Islamic Design, Discovery and Vision (August – December 2012): This exhibition was shown at the Aram Art Gallery of the Goyang Cultural Foundation in Goyang, attracting over 14,700 visitors.
  • Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum (May – August 2011): The exhibition was presented at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. During the exhibition period the museum received over 160,000 visits.
  • World Ceramics: Masterpieces from the V&A (March – June 2008): This exhibition was shown at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center in Seoul and received over 10,100 visitors.


In 1995, the V&A received a loan from the National Museum of Korea of Silla golden earrings and a glass bead necklace for display in the Korean Gallery.


Workshops and drop-in activities encourage visitors to explore Korea and other galleries for inspiration and offer them a chance to create their own works.

For adults

  • The year course Arts of East Asia: China, Korea and Japan - Neolithic to the Modern Period has been running again from September 2015 to July 2016. The six-week Korean section of the course offers a wide range of topics presented by international Korean specialists, and includes gallery talks, handling sessions and visits to other museums. Short courses on related subjects are planned for the future.
  • As part of the 2013 London Design Festival at the V&A, a series of workshops were led by the renowned Korean artist Shin Meekyoung, who creates sculptures using soap as her medium.
  • The short course Fire, Earth and Water: East Asia Pottery and Porcelain ran from April to July 2013. Taking the ceramic collection as its main focus, study visits were used in conjunction with lectures and handling sessions.

For families

  • A Chuseok Korean Family Day took place on Sunday 13 September 2015. This large, free family friendly event offered a wide range of activities and performances for families to engage with, including traditional Korean costume, storytelling, musical performances, family games and a drop-in design activity. This event was supported by the Korea Foundation and Samsung UK.

Artist in Residence

The Learning Department’s Residency programme aims to inspire public interest in contemporary practice and enable artists to further their career through engaging with V&A staff, collections and audiences. Kang Yiyun was selected as the first V&A Samsung Korean Digital Artist in Residence. From October 2015 to March 2016, she worked on projection mapping in the Cast Courts, and investigated physical methods of documenting digital art, looking at three-dimensional models, blueprints and drawings in the V&A Theatre and Performance collections. Her final installation ‘Casting’ was reported in Korea by KBS news on 13 February 2016. Yiyun is currently completing her PhD at the RCA’s Information Experience Design Department.


The V&A currently has more than 3,500 followers on social media from South Korea. The Korean press contacts database is being developed through connections with Rosalie Kim and the Korean Cultural Centre. Other media coverage has included a cover and special feature in Design Korea (August 2015) on What is Luxury? and an interview feature in Harper’s Bazaar Korea for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.


Institutional Collaborations

The V&A enjoys very good relationships with Korean museums. Collaborations have ranged from collection research to conservation and public programmes. The V&A also works with academic institutions, regularly welcoming groups of students from Korean universities, and with various British institutions engaged with Korea, such as the School of Oriental and African Studies, the British-Korean Society and the British Associations for Korean Studies.

  • In 2013, the V&A signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korea Foundation to inaugurate the Global Korea Foundation Internship Programme at the Museum. The first intern was welcomed at the V&A in September 2013. This M.o.U. was renewed in 2016 for three years.

Diplomatic Relationships

The Museum also enjoys good relationships with governmental institutions such as the Korean Cultural Centre in London.

  • In February 2016, Rosalie Kim (Samsung Curator of Korean Art) welcomed the award-winning photographer Noh Suntag and Suzie Lee, director of Inverness Gallery.
  • The V&A was invited to attend a lunch with Kim Jong Deok, the Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Anaïs Aguerre (Head of International Initiatives) attended on behalf of Beth McKillop and Anna Jackson.
  • In January 2016, Rosalie Kim and Anaïs Aguerre welcomed Mr Kim Kabsoo, director of the Korean Cultural Centre and Mr Hong Seunggil from the upcoming Seoul Craft Museum.
  • In November 2015, a delegation from the National Museum of Korea including Prof. Kwak Dong Seok, Deputy Director and Head of the Curatorial Department, visited the V&A.
  • In September 2015, Rosalie Kim welcomed Prof. Chung Hae Cho, Ms Jeong Eunjin and Prof. Rheem Misun, the Art Director of the craft and design exhibition for Korea Now! Craft, Design, Fashion and Graphic Design at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
  • In September 2015, the V&A welcomed a delegation from the Seoul Design Foundation (SDF) including Prof. Lee Keun, the newly appointed CEO of SDF, Prof. Kang Byung Kil, Director General of Seoul Design Research Institute, Prof. Song In Ho, Director of TBS Design Research Center, and Mr Rhee Sang Mook, Director of International Relations from Seoul Design Foundation.
  • In September 2015, Rosalie Kim welcomed Prof. Cho Hyeyoung, Art Director of the Cheongju Biennale, and Chung Jin Won, Professor of Ceramic Art at Kookmin University.In June 2015, the V&A welcomed private collector Dr. Chung Young Yang, Founder and Director of the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum at the Sookmyung University.
  • In March 2015, the V&A welcomed a delegation from UTKI South Korea Mission including Kim Jinsook, the Director General for Architecture Policy Bureau, and Kim Jung-Hee Director of the Architectural Culture and Landscape Division, at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
  • In December 2014, the V&A welcomed Professor Kim Youngna, the Director General of the National Museum of Korea.
  • In November 2014, the V&A welcomed Mrs Lim, wife of the Korean Ambassador, and Mrs Yun Gyun S. Hong, chairwoman of the Board at Areumjigi Foundation.
  • In October 2014, the V&A welcomed a DPRK delegation of 10 artists accompanied by the British Council and the DPRK embassy.
  • In May 2014, the V&A welcomed Dr. Yu Hyun-Seok, President of the Korea Foundation, on his first visit to the Museum.
  • In September 2013, the V&A welcomed the newly appointed Korean Ambassador Lim Sungnam and his wife to see the Korean Gallery.
  • In May 2013, the Museum welcomed a delegation of Korean MPs: Mr. Won Hye-Young and Mr. Shin Ki-Nam of the Democratic United Party, and Mr. Park Sang-Eun and Mr. Shim Jae-Cheol of the Saenuri Party.
  • In August 2012, Mr Choe Kwang-Shik, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, hosted the Korea Shining Bright Gala at the Museum. The evening was part of the ‘All Eyes on Korea’ programme that took place during the Olympic Games. The Gala showcased Korean gastronomy and fashion, introducing three collections by Lie Sang-Bong, the leading Korean fashion designer.


  • Hanji workshop (11 April 2015): The V&A hosted its first workshop on hanji, the Korean traditional paper, as part of the ICON’s conference ‘Adapt and Evolve 2015: East Asian papers’. It showcased the hanji making process, natural dyes and its use in Korean contemporary design. The sessions were led by Susan Catcher, V&A senior paper conservator, Kim Been, a multi-award winning designer, and hanji master Kim Chunho, son of hanji master Kim Samsik, the Living Treasure of the Gyeongsangbuk province, whose hanji is noted for the restoration of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty in 2007 and the Tripitaka Koreana prints in 2011.
  • Friday Late: Korea (30 May 2013): A Friday Late was held at the V&A that showcased the dynamic Korean contemporary art and design scene, where tradition, pop-culture and technological innovation collide and cross-pollinate. Thirteen activities including workshops, installations and performances were presented by eleven emerging talents alongside Nobel Prize Nominee Ko Un and Director Yun Seok-Ho, leader of the Hallyu movement in Asia. Friday Late: Korea drew an impressive crowd of 5,577 visitors and was reported in four national newspapers and on two TV news channels in Korea.


A press announcement took place on 9 February 2016 for the Samsung Digital Mobile Classroom. There are ongoing conversations about the design of the mobile unit which will be used at future workshops, as part of the programme.


Infiniss has been commissioned to identify potential markets for development of brand licensing in Korea. This Korea based agent will focus initially on opportunities in home furnishings.


In 1918, Bernard Rackham (1876-1964), Keeper of the Department of Ceramics from 1918 to 1938, wrote the Catalogue of the Le Blond Collection of Corean Pottery, which made the V&A the first British institution to publish a volume devoted to Korean art.

More recently, the National Research Institute for Cultural Heritage of Korea (NRICH) collaborated with the V&A to produce a fully illustrated catalogue of the V&A Korean collection. This bi-lingual work in Korean and English includes all pre-1910 Korean objects in the V&A’s collection, with descriptions and commentary by leading scholars. Rosalie Kim wrote the introductory essay on the history of the Museum’s Korean collection. The book was launched in December 2013.

  • Rosalie Kim, introduction, Korean Art Collection: Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A Publishing and NRICH, 2013)
  • Liz Wilkinson, Birds, Bats & Butterflies in Korean Art (Sun Tree, 1996)
  • Beth McKillop, The Samsung Gallery of Korean Art: Korean Art and Design (V&A Publishing, 1992)
  • Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of the Le Blond Collection of Corean Pottery (V&A Publishing, 1918)