President Moon Jae-in’s son Moon Joon-yong (Yonhap)
An opposition lawmaker refuses to let up on President Moon Jae-in’s son, artist Moon Joon-yong, demanding that a Seoul City foundation disclose why it decided to fund him as part of its program to support artists suffering due to COVID-19.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Rep. Kwak Sang-do of the People Power Party called on the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture to explain in detail how it selected the artists it sponsored under the program.
In response to news reports in favor of Kwak last week, the foundation said it had finished screening sponsorship applications by April 24 last year but decided to provide an additional 1.5 billion won ($1.36 million) and sponsor more people upon receiving a large number of applications on April 28.
“This increased the number of grantees from about 28 to 46,” wrote Kwak, who claimed earlier that Moon was 34th on the list of grantees.
“Instead of saying ‘it’s not worth discussing,’ they should make everything public.”
Vernacular daily Chosun Ilbo reported last week that the president’s son received a grant of 14 million won after writing just four lines about the damage he had suffered.
Moon Joon-yong rebutted this on Facebook, saying his application was nearly 20 pages long and explained his past projects, what he planned to do with the grant and his plans for future projects.
The artist said Kwak knew he was qualified for the grant but would not admit it, calling the situation “a serious case of libel and abuse of power.”
The 4.5 billion won sponsorship program assisted 254 people in nine arts and cultural fields. Of the total, 656.1 million won went to 46 visual artists, including Moon Joon-yong.
Thirty-six artists, including the president’s son, received the maximum amount of 14 million won because that was how much the artists requested in their applications.
In addition to Kwak, a few opposition politicians -- such as Kim Geun-shik, a professor at Kyungnam University -- have criticized the president’s son, saying he should have given the chance to other artists who needed the funds more.
Moon Joon-yong argued that the pandemic had forced him to cancel his exhibition, affecting all the galleries, curators, technicians and other artists connected with his project.
“These people are small art groups and individuals,” Moon Joon-yong said, adding that the grant he received had gone to them.
The attack on the president’s son, led by Kwak and supported by the Chosun Ilbo, has been going on for months.
Moon Joon-yong said in late December that he could accept criticism as “the president’s son,” but could not accept denunciation of what he does for a living.
“How am I supposed to build my career if they say strings were pulled for every single thing I do?” he wrote on Facebook.
“I am also a citizen of this country, and I think I have the right to be protected for the work I do for a living.”
The Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture has stated that the funding was provided transparently and that it had made the entire process public, from the evaluation criteria to who the judges were.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)