Portrait on W50,000 Bill Sparks Controversy

      March 02, 2009 10:44

      The first portrait of a woman on a Korean banknote has sparked criticism that it is an inaccurate representation of the authentic portrait of Shin Saimdang. The new W50,000 banknote that goes into circulation in June will feature a picture of Shin, a prominent 16th-century artist, calligrapher and mother of Confucian scholar Yulgok Yi Yi.

      But the Gangneung Choi clan association, to which Shin's father belongs on his maternal side, on Sunday said the portrait on the banknote is quite different from her authentic portrait and it is asking the Bank of Korea to change it. Choi Sun-kyu, the head of the association, said, "The authentic portrait shows a long face, but on the banknote her face is round."

      The picture of Shin Saimdang on the new W50,000 bill (left), and the original portrait

      The portrait of Shin kept at Ojukheon, her old home in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, was authorized by the government in 1986 and was drawn by the famous painter Kim Eun-ho. Lee Jong-sang, the painter who drew Shin for the new banknote, said, "I painted her portrait afresh for the banknote based on the authentic portrait. A face in a portrait can look different from different angles.

      A portrait on a banknote is also a work of art. Only someone who doesn't know about art can say that the face on the portrait looks different." The BOK said it produced Shin Saimdang's portrait for the new banknote based on the authentic picture after taking expert advice on the hairstyle and costume of her times. It said it has no plans to make another one because it "made sure that her face is identical to that on her authentic portrait."

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