Artist couple Yi Joung-min, 48, and Jin Shi-u, 44, of Okin Collective were found dead at their home Friday, sources within the local art community said Monday.
Jin Shi-u (left) and Yi Joung-min of artist group Okin Collective (MMCA)
According to the sources, the couple had experienced financial difficulties and conflicts with others in the art world. Police are currently investigating, they said.
Okin Collective was a three-member artist collective founded in 2009 to address issues surrounding the eviction of residents of the Okin Apartment Complex in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, which was to be torn down.
From the beginning, Okin Collective focused its work on social issues associated with urban development and won wide recognition in the art scene. In 2018, the collective was among four finalists for the Korea Artist Prize presented by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea.
However, the collective technically stopped its activities at the end of the last year due to conflicts within the group, according to the sources. It also had to cancel exhibitions it was planning in foreign countries.
In emails they wrote to their close friends they said, “(We are) both physically and mentally exhausted, but hereby summon our last remaining strength to bid farewell for the last time. ... (We are) very sorry to have caused distress to those of you who have heard about the conflict with Okin Collective. If we are to be blamed for the measures that we have taken as people in charge of Okin Collective, we would like to take the responsibility through these means, at very least.”
They continued on to say they were at fault for everything, including not being able to take responsibility anymore, and that they “just feel forlorn as we have tried to prove the sincerity and efforts we put into making art.”
“This may sound foolish, but we believed artists were ‘people who make art’ and (for whom) ‘art is everything in their lives.’”
The funeral will take place Tuesday at the National Medical Center.
By Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)