[korean on tv]

Topic: Korea

Nam June Paik, “TV Buddha” (1974)

Korea’s most famous artist, the video pioneer Nam June Paik (백남준), passed away on Sunday at the age of 73.

The Korea Times has an interesting obituary that takes on nativist Korean critics of Paik’s U.S. citizenship and Japanese wife and discusses the political impact on Koreans of his 1984 work “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell,” which linked Seoul with other world capitals by satellite at a time when South Korea was undergoing serious political strife and dictatorial repression.

A measure of Paik’s importance to Koreans is the installation of his 1998 work I Never Read Wittgenstein in the lobby of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, where any guest who sits in the waiting area is likely to notice the flashes of pornographic content that appear from time to time in its swirling videos. The work is generally switched off when the Mission holds receptions, presumably to avoid offending guests, but it remains on most of the time, and it certainly startled me when I came here for my job interview.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the name Paik is pronounced bake.