Scholar claims discovery of Korea’s oldest painting

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Mar 18, 2013 - 19:42
  • Updated : Mar 18, 2013 - 19:42
A local scholar on Sunday claimed he has discovered what he believes to be the oldest painting in Korea.

Lee Dong-cheon, a guest researcher at the Museum of Liaoning Province in China, said he recently found a painting which he believes dates back to 14th century Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392).

“It seems like this piece of work is an imitation of the famous 12th century painting ‘Dokhwarosado,’” the scholar was quoted as saying in news reports. “It looks like the painting was created circa 1350.”
A 14th century imitation of the famous 12th century Goryeo painting “Dokhwarosado,” which scholar Lee Dong-cheon claims to be the oldest surviving painting in Korea. (Yonhap News)

The painting depicts a seashore and residential houses as well as islands of the Korean Peninsula. Lee argues that one piece of evidence that the painting features a Goryeo beach is that its depiction of the residential houses is remarkably similar to the “Goryeodogyeong,” or “Illustrated Account of Goryeo,” a 12th century text and illustration about Goryeo’s politics and culture by Chinese scholar Xu Jing.

The scholar also argues that the painting is similar to the scenery described in “Onsanginsochukdokhwarosado” a poem by Goryeo’s renowned poet Lee Kyu-bo (1168-1241). The poetry is believed to have been written by Lee after the poet saw “Dokhwarosado.”

“This painting has historical significance as it is the oldest surviving Korean painting which features the actual seashore view of the Goryeo era,” the scholar said. “I hope to see a lot of academic discussions and research on this painting in the future.”

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)