Media art artist Moon Jun-yong explains when he shows his work on the illusion of shadows on TV in his studio in Gangseo-gu, Seoul on the 7th. By Kang Chang-kwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]
It was not easy to find Junyong Moon’s studio by following the address. Mun’s studio was located on the second floor at the corner of an alley with small and shabby pubs behind the Gangseo-gu Office in Seoul. The atmosphere of the studio on the second floor of an old building was different from that of an artist’s studio. I thought there would be a few pieces of art hanging, but there were four computers, a large TV, and items that were supposed to be work materials piled up on one side. When he said, “I feel like I am in a computer graphics office,” Moon Jun-yong said, “Exactly so. After the exhibition is over, the work is dismantled, and since it is stored as a video, it is only stored as data in the computer. So if you come to see it, there is nothing to show you, so it’s difficult.” He smiled coolly. “It is a bit surprising to have a studio like this. Is there any reason you chose this place?” “This area (rent) is cheap. Before that, there was a studio in Mullae-dong, but there was a lot of work there, so I moved here in 2017.” Moon Jun-yong, son of President Moon Jae-in, was recently selected for the Arts and Technology Convergence Support Project by the Arts and Culture Committee of Korea and received a subsidy of 69 million won. This fact became known when Jun-yong Moon himself disclosed it on his Facebook page. Rep. Kwak Sang-do and Bae Hyun-jin of the opposition party alleges favoritism, and Moon refutes it through S&S, which has spread into a political controversy. This is not the first time he has clashed with an opposition lawmaker in a way called S&S. Moon Jun-yong is different from the sons of previous presidents. The children of past presidents took it for granted that they did not reveal themselves thoroughly and kept quiet. Of course, there were many cases of corruption and solicitation afterwards. Moon expresses his thoughts candidly through S&S. It is also seen that they are actively responding to political attacks from the opposition parties. What makes Moon Jun-yong different from the children of past presidents? I wondered if it was because he was a new generation or because he thought that living as a ‘President’s son’ would press down on the freedom of ‘Writer Jun-Yong Moon’. The interview was held at Junyong Moon’s studio in Gangseo-gu, Seoul on the 7th, and supplementary questions were asked over the phone once.
― You first revealed that you received 69 million won in support from the Arts and Culture Committee, which was recently controversial. Is it because you expected this to become politically public anyway and a political offensive would come in the first place? “right. I think of myself as a fish waiting to be cooked. It feels like you’re stuck in a fishbowl and take it out when you want (from the opposition) and cook it the way you want. I got hit so many times, so it’s true that I hit the player first this time.” ― First of all, there were criticisms of ‘why are you proud of being selected?’ “Isn’t it too far-fetched, I know there is such a point of view. I’m sorry. But I can’t help it, so I’m doing it (publicly). Which writer would brag about being handsome, lying down and spitting? But no matter what I do, there is always a controversy about preferential treatment. Whether he signed an exhibition contract with a public institution or received a subsidy, he said that he received benefits despite not having the skills. My father continued to live like that while he was in politics, and his skills were denigrated. Frankly, I’m angry. So I wanted to make it clear that it is not, and that it is not a preference.” ― If you receive a subsidy, there will be a controversy about preferential treatment, and if it falls, people will say that you have failed. Still, why did you apply? “I would like to explain a little bit about the subsidy issue. Art grants are not meant to help people in need like disaster grants. Its purpose is to support the creation of talented writers. So, the amount of support was close to 70 million won. That subsidy is not mine, but is used for production costs. Please see the application form for all budget details. I put a few million won of my wages in it, but that too will go to production costs. The exhibition hall rental fee is about 10 million won, and tens of millions of won goes to purchasing various equipment or outsourcing companies. The subsidy does not remain with me, but goes all out to the people in the (art) ecosystem. When you ask why you are applying for a public institution project, what I do is experimental art, so it costs a lot to produce, but no money. So there is not much private support. Last year, I received a private grant once. At the Paradise Cultural Foundation. The private sector then accuses it of being more unfair than the public. No matter what I do, it is hard to get away from criticism and prejudice that it is preferential treatment. However, I have accumulated enough achievements before my father’s election, and that is one of the main considerations for art grants.” ― During the term of President Moon Jae-in, let’s not apply for public or private support at all. Have you ever thought of this? “It’s really burdensome for me too. But I can’t help it. (President) They say if I can apply after the end of my term, I am too old. It’s actually not easy to apply when you’re older. Also, I have a good work idea right now, so I have to make a work quickly, but delaying my father’s retirement is too harsh for an artist. I applied because I have the confidence to make a good work now.” ― Moon Jun-yong’s application form, document screening scores, and interview transcripts were all revealed. Do you think that it goes beyond the public’s right to know for a member of the National Assembly to disclose this? “I think so, but the privacy issue has been around for so long that I’m tired of arguing about it. That’s why I’m arguing with S&S. The problem is that other people suffer because of me than I do. (Regarding the Literary Arts Committee application) My application shows the real names of the people who have agreed to work with me. There is an exhibition hall where I have decided to exhibit my work, and it is said that I received a lot of calls this time.” ― Do you personally hate Rep. Kwak Sang-do? “I also do S&S while cutting my flesh to make a living now, and I think that this person is also trying to make a living. It has become like a job to each other. As a politician, I understand, but I just want them to play fair play. These allegations have never been properly settled. There are only suspicions floating around on the Internet.” ― The president’s son is a public figure, so he has no choice but to endure such invasion of privacy to some extent. I should have stayed still, but didn’t you think that as the controversy grows, it becomes a burden on your father, who is the president? “Yes, I think you are right. But even if I was a public figure, I didn’t become a public figure because I wanted it, so it’s involuntary. Nor do I benefit or receive any benefit from it. Still, people say that I may have crossed the line as a public figure. The problem is that politicians promoted it first, but they do not point out that part and do not check whether the content is wrong or correct. So let’s at least give some facts, that’s what I usually write for S&S.”
Junyong Moon studied at Parsons School of Design in New York, and his graduation work ‘Augmented Shadow’ was selected as an entry for ‘Talk to Me’, a new media exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has been invited to various domestic and foreign exhibitions such as Ars Electronica, FILE, and Seoul Media City Biennale. His work was published in the Art Creation Textbook published by Haeneum Edu Publishing Company. A person in charge of the publishing company said, “I decided to publish this work (the authors) because it is meaningful in terms of the fusion of art and science beyond boundaries. When I was compiling the textbook (in 2016), I did not know that he was President Moon’s son because it was before President Moon took office.” In the art world these days, there is a strong reluctance to publicly mention Moon Jun-yong’s work due to political controversies. In December 2020, Senior Correspondent Noh Hyung-seok, who is in charge of art, said in a column, “Moon Moon is an artist who has been recognized in his own way in the art world. ‘Augmented Shadow’ and ‘Shadow Play’ were well-received for their unique concepts that transformed augmented reality technology into imagination.” How does an artist who delves into the shadows feel the ‘shadow of the president’s son’? ― Recently, in the United States, the fact that President Biden’s son Hunter Biden, an attorney, is holding an exhibition of paintings and trying to sell his works for tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars has become controversial. What did you think after reading this article? “I think it’s very different from me. First of all, Hunter Biden isn’t a full-time writer, I’m a full-time writer with a living. The question is whether the price of Hunter Biden’s work reflects the fact that his father is the president, and it would be difficult to tolerate selling expensively for that reason in Korea. There are people who criticize me for saying that the artist is too high. You’re asking me why I’m applying to the public sector, but in the first place, I have to get an evaluation from the public to get a standard for calculating the price of a work. But since you believe that it is not fair, it is frustrating for me.” ― Unlike the former president’s son, he actively speaks through S&S. It may seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable to the public. Is it because Junyong Moon is a new generation of young people? “At first, I didn’t even respond at all and thought I could just live with it for a while. But since I’m a writer, I have to be exposed all the time, and I don’t think I can sit still (due to a political attack), so I tried everything. At first, I made a statement through a lawyer, and then I explained it through the Blue House. But the problem with this is that the response is too slow. Even a lawyer writes a simple statement, and a day or two goes by. Because we review every word and have a meeting to discuss legal issues. My issue is that it’s important to respond quickly, but that’s not the case. So I did S&S myself. Maybe it’s because I’m young.” ― Has your father or mother ever told you that ‘I wish you would refrain from S&S’? “There is not. This is a very stressful story, and I don’t see (my parents) often, but when I do I want to talk about something interesting, I try not to talk like this to each other. My parents know the history (the process of becoming S&S), so they don’t say anything.” ― Still, it seems that the Blue House aides asked for restraint. “I will not comment on that part.”
― Since his father ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2012, Moon Jun-yong must have been imprinted on people as ‘Moon Jae-in’s son’ rather than an individual. What did your father think when he said he was going to get into politics in earnest? “As a writer, I expected it to have an impact on my life, but I didn’t expect it to be this much.” ― How was it when your father was elected president in May 2017? “I was happy and at the same time scared. Rather than about that individual, can my family now be able to handle it, I have no doubt that my father will do well, but the family has to endure a long time (political burden), and it won’t end when I retire. I was a little afraid.” ― Do you think the opposition and the media are too harsh on the president’s family? “Honestly, yes. Well, now that (President Moon’s term) is coming to an end, I don’t think the situation is that bad. However, we need to think a little bit about the political culture that attacks the children, not the politicians themselves. I’m still fine with what I’ve accumulated because it’s an invitation or an exhibition, but for a young friend who doesn’t, it can completely erode the potential for future development. There is no way to prove that even if your skills are being disparaged. I want you to understand how much pain it must be for a person who is still young.” ― The president is a place where he works and dedicates himself to the people. If there is a controversy over Moon Jun-yong’s S&S, it can be a burden to the father and inconvenient to the people. Don’t you feel sorry for the people in that regard? “Of course, there must be many people who feel uncomfortable, and I’m really sorry for those people. I know exactly why, and I try not to cross that line. I apologize to the people, and as the president’s son, I want to live a little quietly, and I think it’s better to live quietly. However, I can’t completely avoid S&S. Anyway, I can tell you the truth at least a little bit. It has to be done precisely to the bare minimum.” ― Do you and your parents eat at least once a month? “I am trying to do that, but it is not easy because my father is busy. My grandson (Moon Jun-yong’s son) wants to see him when he enters elementary school.” ― Although the lives of father and son cannot be completely separated, do you think that we should live our own lives as the father does and I do as I am? “Yes. I’ve been like that since a long time ago, and I’ve been thinking more about it while making art. I still think about it, but I didn’t know it would be like this.” ― Does President Moon have the same opinion? “It’s absolutely right.” ― Lawyers attach great importance to established principles and evidence. A writer has much more freedom because imagination is important. I wonder what the usual relationship between a father who is a lawyer (President Moon) and his son (Moon Jun-yong), an artist, is going to be? “You can usually think of the father-son relationship in Korea. You can eat it a little bit, and imagine something like that. It doesn’t seem like the job has an effect on (the relationship between the father and son), but my father emphasizes logic in conversations, but I don’t, so I sometimes feel a little uneasy.” (Laughs)
― What was the special reason for choosing a media artist? “I loved animation when I was young. So I chose design as my major (university), and I wanted to deal with video media. However, since I like to create new forms, I started doing more experimental media art, and in particular, I started doing video art, including computer programming.” ― What’s the most fun animation you’ve ever seen? “Director Satoshi Kon’s “Wa” is memorable. In both works, I was impressed by how they blended dreams and illusions with reality. My work now also overlaps the shadow fantasy with reality, and it seems that the fondness for animation like that in the past continues.” ― When President Moon’s term ends, do you expect to be freed from political controversies and fully realize the dream of writer Junyong Moon? What is your ultimate goal as a writer? “Yes. I’m sure it will. (President Moon) After my tenure, I expect that I will be able to be evaluated objectively in the future. It’s not just nonsense, I think I’m on track to some extent. My ultimate goal is to become the best writer in this field.” Senior Editorial Member [email protected]