Nude painting of Park torn off wall

SEOUL • A nude painting of South Korean President Park Geun Hye met a violent end at Parliament yesterday, reports said, as supporters tore the work - which evokes Edouard Manet's Olympia - off the wall and destroyed it.

The image was part of an exhibition at the National Assembly featuring works by 22 artists lampooning Ms Park and her confidante Choi Soon Sil, who is at the centre of the corruption scandal that led to Ms Park's impeachment by Parliament last month.

The country's Supreme Court is now deciding whether to uphold the move. If it does so, elections must be held within 60 days.

In Manet's 19th-century original on display in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, a naked white woman widely identified as a prostitute stares boldly out at the viewer, while a black servant brings her flowers.

In South Korean painter Lee Koo Young's version, entitled Dirty Sleep, Ms Park's features are transposed onto a nude Asian woman who clasps a missile from the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system to her bosom.

Ms Park last year agreed with the US government to deploy the system in South Korea in response to the threat of missiles from the nuclear-armed North, infuriating China.

She is also depicted dozing as the Sewol ferry - which went down with the loss of nearly 400 lives three years ago - sinks outside her window. Two puppies cavort on her thighs and Choi takes the place of the servant.

Some 20 Park supporters went on a rampage at the exhibition, Yonhap news agency reported, wrecking the work. A 63-year-old member of a rightist group was arrested and another was being sought by police, it said.

Mr Pyo Chang Won, the opposition lawmaker who organised the exhibition, has been referred to an ethics panel by his own Democratic Party over the picture, which provoked accusations of sexism and bad taste.

Painter Lee is one of nearly 10,000 artists on a blacklist by the conservative government for voicing criticism of Ms Park. Those named are said to be deprived of government subsidies and private investment, as well as placed under state surveillance.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Nude painting of Park torn off wall'. Print Edition | Subscribe