Choi Hyo-jun. Photo: Kyung Hyang News.

Seoul Museum of Art Suspends Director over Sexual Harassment Complaint

Seoul Museum of Art director Choi Hyo-jun, who has led the institution since February 2017, has been accused of sexual harassment by a female employee and was suspended from his post on July 19, HG Masters of ArtAsiaPacific reports. Choi has also been removed from the list of curators for the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, which will coincide with the Busan and Gwangju Biennales, slated to open on September 6. 

According to Korean media outlets, Choi has been contacting female employees on the Korean messaging service Kakao Talk and sent one staff member an inappropriate video. The woman reported the incident to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Human Rights Center, which launched an investigation. Choi defended his actions in an interview with Chosun News and claimed that the content of the video was comedic and not sexually explicit. Additionally, he told Yonhap News that he has never sexually harassed an employee.

Earlier this year, the museum professional also faced backlash after he appointed an all-male curatorial team—comprising dance critic Nam Soo Kim; independent curator Jang-un Kim; director of the Book Society Kyung Yong; Lim Daul Jang, a climate and energy team leader at Greenpeace; and Gibin Hong, director of the Global Political Economy Institute—to head the Seoul Mediacity Biennale, which has invited sixty-six artists to address the theme of “Living Well.”

Prior to joining the Seoul Museum of Art, Choi served as the director of a number of institutions, including the Gyeonggi Museum of Art, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung, and the Jeonbuk Museum of Art. He was hired to head the museum for a two-year term and was expected to complete his tenure in 2019.