International Journal of Art & Design Education

Critical Perspectives on Colonisation of the Art Curriculum in Korea

Volume 28.2   2009



This article examines some characteristics of art education in Korea. It takes the form of a historical overview using a postcolonial lens. The findings were that the predominant Western aesthetic concepts and theories as central culture embodied in Korean art education as local culture are: (i) ideas of art as self-expression developed in Europe and the USA between the 1920s and 1950s; (ii) the concept of art in daily living in the USA in the 1930s; (iii) design elements and principles by Arthur Wesley Dow in the USA in the 1920s; (iv) Bauhaus design theory in Europe in the 1920s; and (v) the appreciation of nature beauty by John Ruskin in the late nineteenth century in England. These educational ideas have been influential on policy-making in Korean art education, and therefore new concepts are integrated with these elements for curriculum changes. In this way, the characteristic of the colonised Korean art curriculum is so hybrid that it is difficult to understand the concepts and the practical implications of the various policies for art teaching. Consequently, it has not served the issues of cultural diversity and pluralism that are so problematic in twenty-first century Korean society.