Kim Myeong-guk

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Kim Myeong-guk
Dalmado by Kim Myeong-guk
Korean name
Hangul 김명국
Hanja 金明國
Revised Romanization Gim Myeong-guk
McCune–Reischauer Kim Myŏngguk
Pen name
Hangul 연담, 취옹
Hanja 蓮潭, 醉翁
Revised Romanization Yeondam, Chwiong
McCune–Reischauer Yŏndam, Ch'wiong
Courtesy name
Hangul 천여
Hanja 天汝
Revised Romanization Cheonyeo
McCune–Reischauer Ch'ŏnyŏ

Kim Myeong-guk (김명국, b. 1600, d. after 1662), styled Yeondam 연담 or Chwiong 취옹, was a full-time painter of the mid Joseon period of Korea.

Life and legacy[edit]

Kim Myeong-guk was born in 1600.[1] He entered the royal service as a member of the Dohwaseo, the official painters of the Joseon court.

Quite immediately, Kim Myeong-guk appeared as a new type of artist, clearly distinctive from his contemporaries, who more or less worked as craftsmen that faithfully replicated mainstream styles. A diplomatic statement is "he was known to have an artistic personality that was characterized by individualism and obstinacy",[2] while an understatement would be "his contemporaries described him as a carefree drunkard, a characterization that corresponds to the Chinese image of the eccentric artist".[1]

Nevertheless, (or precisely for this reason), Kim Myeong-guk has been in charge of many official artistic tasks. He was member of both the large-scale Tongsinsa send to Japan by King Injo (1595–1623–1649). The 1636 delegation was led by Im Gwang (1579–1644), while the 1643 delegation was led by Yun Sunji (1591–1666). "According to one account, Kim became distraught with exhaustion because an endless stream of Japanese enthusiasts, eager to purchase his works, would not allow him a moment of peace".[2] Dalmado (cf infra) was painted during his second trip to Japan.

In 1647, he directed a team of 6 Senior painters (화원) and 66 other people to repair the Changgyeong Palace.[3] Later he was in charge of portraits of meritorious subjects. The circumstances and the year of his death are unknown. His last known painting (Sasipalgyeongdo) dates back to 1662.


Although retained as a court painter, Kim was also a pioneering artist who insisted on creating works that were true to his personality and sentiments.[2]

Most of the Kim Myeong-guk paintings involving people have Buddhist themes (and a specific artistic style). His pen name Yeondam ("Lotus pond") has Buddhist connotations.[1] Yi Saek was the scholar official that opposed the overthrowing of Buddhism at the foundation of the Joseon Kingdom.

His landscape paintings are more 'mainstream', but nevertheless specific.

초춘/만춘 early and late spring
초하/만하 early and late summer
초추/만추 early and late autumn
초동/만동 early and late winter
사시팔경도 - Eight views of the Four Seasons (1662)[4]

The Korean Copyright Commission[5] lists 24 paintings for Kim Myeong-guk, while Towooart[6] gives a short notice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Turner 2003, p. (18)57
  2. ^ a b c . Hong Sun-pyo, Professor of Art History, Ewha Womans University Graduate School (2007). "Creating Masterful Paintings from Brush and Ink". Koreana. The Korean Foundation. 21 (1). Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  3. ^ (Korean) Britannica.
  4. ^ National Museum of Korea,
  5. ^ KCC 2013
  6. ^ TWA 2013


External links[edit]

  • Arts of Korea, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Kim Myeong-guk