The knowledge and then the influence of Western art began to become significant in the Korean artistic panorama only at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (suggestive in this regard the construction in Seoul in the Renaissance style of the Toksu palace which housed between 1945 and 2005 the National Museum, now housed in the ultra-modern location in the heart of the city in the Yongsan Family Park). In the artists, especially the painters, of the generation active between 1910 and 1940, one can observe the coexistence between the local representative traditions and the instances of Westernization; in these same years, however, the model of Japanese art gradually became stronger in the artistic field, a binding and unavoidable influence given that between 1910 and 1943 Japan occupied the country. Among the most representative names of this historical phase we can include Kim Un-ho, Yi Sang-bom, Ko Hui-dong, Pyon Kwan-shik and No Su-hyon. With the end of the Japanese occupation, there was a decisive return to the study of traditional ink and watercolor drawing techniques, which were however interpreted with a new and modern taste for the abstract by the six leading artists of this new wave. artistic, Eun-ho Kim, Seung-moo Park, Sang-bum Lee, Soo-hyun Noh, Kwan-sik Byun, and Baik-ryun Heo. In the sixties of the twentieth century, alongside a large line of figurative painting, mostly of an academic imprint, the trend towards informal strengthened and imposed itself with artists of great prestige such as Kim Hwan-ki, Yu Yong-guk and Kwon Ok -yon. Alongside the reinterpretation of traditional iconographic themes, the landscape in the first place, starting from the seventies there is the greatest propensity in the Korean artistic community to experiment with themes and forms, which are being developed in international environments.
According to animalerts, the presence of Korean artists at the turn of the last decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries on the American and European art market has become very strong, with the emergence of multiple personalities of the most eclectic trends. Alongside these it is appropriate to include Nam June Paik (1932-2006): Korean by birth but with a truly cosmopolitan background (studies in Tōkyō and in Germany; contact and collaboration with John Cage; transfer in the Sixties to New York, where he found, for a certain period, in Charlotte Moorman the co-creator of a series of performances), Paik gave a decisive mark on the birth of video art. Among the artists of the latest generation we can remember Lee Bul and Koo Jeong, winners of the Hugo Boss Prize, awarded on the proposal of the scientific committee of the Guggenheim Museum from New York. South Korea dedicated the entire pavilion of the 2007 Venice Biennale to a solo exhibition of the promising Hyungkoo Lee (b.1969), who is indicated as the original interpreter of a synthesis of the most interesting ferments of the contemporary art scene and a peculiar matrix Korean cultural. In the architectural field, South Korea has for several years been a place for the elaboration and realization of a large number of proposals that are placed in the context of the most advanced design experiments: among others, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul (2004), one of whose buildings bears the signature of the Dutch Rem Koolhaas (b.1944). The revolutionary Togok skyscraper is still at the design stage (XL) conceived between 1996 and 2002 by Koolhaas himself, whose bulk will reach 440 m in height, and the Industrialized Housing System designed, commissioned by the Korean Hanseen Corporation in 1992, by the study of Richard Rogers (b.1933): in this case the company asked the architect to design a modular system resulting from the assembly of housing units of different composition and length, whose construction requires in economic terms 20% of the average cost thanks, for example, to the recourse to innovative recycled materials.
Alongside the cultured tradition, popular music is based on similar characters, but is characterized by greater simplicity and, compared to Chinese popular music, reflects a more archaic phase; in the course of the twentieth century, however, it underwent a rapid evolution, especially in South Korea, where jazz also penetrated with the Americans. In the field of contemporary cultured music we remember Isang Yun (1917-1975), a composer of great caliber; Unsuk Chin (b. 1961), an eclectic artist who ranges from classical works to electronics and performs in major festivals and theaters in the world (in 2007 his Alice in Wonderland premiere took place); Chung Myung-whun (b.1953) conductor of some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world (Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker). On the pop music front, genres such as rock and hip-hop count artists and a large audience in South Korea: k-pop (Korean pop) boasts a large list of very young singers and groups, many of them teenagers, including names most famous are BoA (1986) which has sold millions of copies to his credit, Kim Jong Kook (b.1977) and TVXQ, a boyband made up of five boys, the Exo, the Big Bang, which have sold more than 140 million copies in the world, i god (Groove over Dose); the girl’s Generation group, and BTS, who became famous in 2016 with the song Blood, Sweet and tears. We also remember the South Korean rapper Psy, who achieved world fame in 2012 with the single Gangnam Style.