Filled with numerous sewing needle factories and textile manufacturers that supply the neighboring Dongdaemun Market, Changsin-dong has been largely a working-class neighborhood since the 1960’s. It is in this historic district where artist Nam June Paik spent part of his early childhood, and where his memorial now stands. Located in a quiet and unassuming part of a narrow alley, the memorial is in the shape of a hanok, the traditional Korean house, making it visibly different from the rest of the neighborhood.
One step inside the main entrance, you get an immediate glimpse of Paik’s artistic style, at the door, which is created from putting nine televisions side by side. The televisions depict scenes from history to capture the environment in which Paik grew up. Born in Seoul in 1932, Paik lived in Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and the U.S. throughout his lifetime, before returning to Seoul in 1984. His diverse life experiences are manifest in his artwork.
The inside of the house is a simple L-shape with a small courtyard, allowing visitors a short but thorough look into the life of Paik as an artist. The memorial features a short history of Paik’ career with commentary from friends and influences, as well as his signature television art projects, such as Good Morning America and collaboration with soprano Sumi Jo. At the end, you can enter a room modeled after Paik’s apartment in Soho, New York, where you can watch the interactive biography, the Paper Theater.
Nam June Paik was a true avant-garde in the field of media art, reinterpreting what it means to communicate globally through art. The memorial exists not only to remember his works as relics of the past, but also to recognize the immeasurable impact his work will have on media art in the future.
The memorial is operated by the Seoul Museum of Art, and offers free admission for all ages.