Nova Scotia Journal

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Unimaru art museum located between North and South Korea

Unimaru art museum

Key Takeaways:

  • Art has forever had the potential to be harmful.
  • However, a newly opened art museum takes things to the next level.
  • It’s the location of Unimaru that makes it dangerous.

The museum is located on the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a no-land man’s along the 38th parallel that separates North and South Korea. Its inaugural exhibition, titled “2021 DMZ Art and Peace Platform,” opened in September 2021 and featured 34 artworks by 32 artists.

From 2003 to 2007, Unimaru was a customs clearinghouse where visitors went through security screening before visiting the DMZ. A larger office eventually replaced this.

The structure sat empty until early 2021 when it was reimagined as Unimaru by architecture firm MPART, which also designed the National Museum of Modern Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul. The name of the museum is a combination of two Korean words: “uni,” which means “one,” and “maru,” which means “space.”

According to the museum, its roof was opened up so that visitors could see more of the view, and it has a steel facade that “represents the liminality of time and space at the DMZ.”

museum is Korean Demilitarized Zone; Image from Artnet news

Visitors are intentionally kept to a minimum due to security and coronavirus concerns.

When the museum was open, a maximum of five tour groups per day was permitted, with no more than 30 people per group. However, Unimaru is currently on hiatus while preparing for its next exhibition.

Visitors must apply for permission to the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU), the official government body that promotes reunification of the Koreas and dialogue between the two countries.

Once approved, they will be given a free ticket to Unimaru and can board one of the special buses permitted to transport civilian guests to the DMZ.

After having their IDs checked, visitors are guided around the museum by docents and MOU staff. This MOU personnel is civilians who do not carry weapons.

All visitors to the DMZ must adhere to a dress code that prohibits the wearing miniskirts, shorts, and anything with a camouflage print. After a state visit to the DMZ in 1993, former US President Bill Clinton famously stated that it was the “scariest place on earth.”

Panmunjom tours resumed on November 30 after being halted in July due to South Korea’s tightening of Covid-19 restrictions.

Source: CNN News

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