Tucked away just south of Seoul is the somewhat newly opened Nam June Paik Art Center, a very large and beautiful museum dedicated to the grandfather of video art, Nam June Paik. Living abroad, from Japan to Germany to U.S., Paik became quickly associate of the main fluxus and otherwise experimental art figures, including John Cage, La Monte Young, Joseph Beuys, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Hermann Nitsch, and countless others. Since his purchase of Sony's first portable video recorder, Paik made history with his experimental video work; from straight shooting to manipulation of video signals using magnets and other means. His art was presented as various forms of sculptures and physical creations, recorded videos, installations, happenings, and other performance art.

The Nam June Paik Art Center has a great collection of all of his mediums, as well as occasional exhibitions of like-minded artists and performers. Admission is free, as are the guided tours available in both Korean and English.

"The architect for Nam June Paik Art Center was selected among 430 participants in an international competition endorsed by the International Union of Artists (UIA) in 2003. The prize winning entry by Kirsten Schemel, a young German architect, who was commissioned together with Marina Stankovic in KSMS Schemel Stankovic Architects (Berlin) to design the building shown [above]. Characteristic of the museum is its screen facade consisting of several layers of reflective and partly printed glass." [from http://njp.kr/ff_eng.html]

Both the building itself and the surrounding area are worthy of exploration and investigation. In fact, as signs behind the museum point out, while excavating for the museum, several ancient artifacts were discovered.

And inside the building; sculptures, robots, writings, paintings, memorabilia, photographs, videos, and everything else you can imagine. One particularly good quote by the notorious Hermann Nitsch is displayed, explaining Paik's insistence on basically "hopping in" and getting chest-deep in blood and guts during one of Nitsch's controversial "Aktions." Alongside the quote is video of one of Nitsch's performances shown in vibrant color; aside from perhaps being there in-person, there is not much else like seeing such a large and crystal-clear viewing of his performances.

The museum is easily accessible by bus from downtown Seoul. With free admission and a cheap, short bus ride, even those not completely interested in this sort of experimental art should find appreciation in the chance to get out of Seoul for a day. Find full directions on the homepage.