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Sunjung Kim. Photo: Gwangu Biennale.
Sunjung Kim. Photo: Gwangu Biennale.

Sunjung Kim Leaves Gwangju Biennale Foundation

Gwangju Biennale Foundation president Sunjung Kim will leave her post when her contract expires in June, ArtAsiaPacific reports. Kim’s departure after four years at the helm comes in the wake of a labor dispute with the Gwangju Biennale Labor Union, which on April 26 released a statement accusing Kim of abusing and unfairly dismissing staff. The union chalked up the abuse to gapjil (arrogant conduct on the part of a superior), ignorance of labor laws, and the privatization of the foundation.

The allegations—which are currently under investigation by the Gwangju city government as well as by the city’s human rights office, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, and the National Human Rights Commission—include “the president’s lack of leadership, the lack of principles and transparency in operations, as well as the abandonment of duty and abuse of authority by the head of the HR team,” according to a union official.

The commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale and a cocurator of the 2012 Gwangju Biennale, Kim was named president of the foundation in 2017. She served as chief curator of the 2018 Gwangju Biennale, “Imagined Borders,” and with artistic directors Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala helmed the latest iteration of the event, “Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning,” which opened in April, having been pushed forward from its original September 2020 opening owing to the Covid-19 crisis. The Gwangju Biennale Foundation has said that it will form a committee to choose the foundation’s next president. Gwangju City Culture and Tourism Department chief Kim Joon-young confirmed that the selection process will be “transparent, fair, and objective.”