Special Past

Tigers in East Asian Art: Korea, Japan, China

  • Location

    Special Exhibition Gallery (1st floor, Permanent Exhibition Hall)

  • Date Jan-26-2018 ~ Mar-18-2018


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The National Museum of Korea presents a special exhibition titled “Tigers in East Asian Art: Korea, Japan, China” on the occasion of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in collaboration with the Tokyo National Museum of Japan and the National Museum of China. Given that Soohorang, the mascot of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, is a white tiger, which has long been considered a guardian animal, the exhibition focuses on the tradition and transformation of the tiger images in East Asian art.

The exhibition will be held in the Special Exhibition Gallery of the National Museum of Korea from January 26 to March 18, 2018. It will present forty works from Korea including Tiger Under Pine Tree and Tiger Under Bamboo by Kim Hong-do (1745~1806?), thirty works from Japan including three pairs of large screens each titled Dragon and Tiger, and thirty-five works from China including an ancient weapon ornamented with a tiger design and a terra-cotta figurine of the twelve zodiac animals, making for a total of 105 works. In jade objects and ornaments, ceramics, sculptures, and paintings, visitors can see various representations and meanings of tiger. They depicted as a guardian god of the primitive beliefs of ancient times and in later Taoist and Buddhist art; they symbolize protection against evil spirits, auspiciousness, man of virtue and benevolent rule; and they became the subject of tradition and transformation in works of modern and contemporary art.

The AV room at the entrance to the Special Exhibition Gallery will run a high definition video that gives the audience a vivid experience about wild tigers, which inspired both awe and fear in the people of East Asia.

This exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity to understand the universality and unique characteristics of cultures of Korea, China, and Japan through symbolism and art.

January 26 (Friday) - March 18 (Sunday), 2018

Special Exhibition Gallery (1
stfloor, Permanent Exhibition Hall)

On display are 105 paintings, sculptures, and craftworks of tigers from Korea, Japan, and China

For virtual reality experience of the special exhibition "Tigers in East Asian Art" in the national museum of Korea, click here.

For online exhibition of "The Korean Tiger: Icon of Myth and Culture", click here.

Admission (KRW)




(over 20 people)

Exhibition Package

(“the Collection of the Hermitage”+“Tigers in East Asian Art”)


the Collection of the Hermitage

(Individual / Group)

Adult (24+)





Middle School, High School, and University Students





Elementary School Students





Seniors (65+),

Child (5 to 7)





Co-organized by the National Museum of Korea, the Tokyo National Museum of Japan, and the National Museum of China

In cooperation with the Cultural Foundation of National Museum of Korea

Collateral Events

1. Special lectures

  ○ First session

     14:00 ~ 17:00, January 26 (Friday), 2018

     Small auditorium

     Subject and Speakers

     - Tigers in the Art of Korea - Park Kyungeun(Curator,f National Museum of Korea)

     - Tigers in the Art of Japan - Suekane Toshihiko (Curator, Tokyo National Museum)

     - Tigers in the Art of China - Huang Yi (Curator, National Museum of China)

  ○ Second session

     14:00 ~ 17:00, January 31 (Wednesday), 2018

     Classroom 1

     Subject and Speakers

     - Tigers of Joseon and Modern Korea - Lee Hang (Professor, Seoul National University)

     - Recognition and Expression of Tigers in East Asia - Choi Seonju (Head of Asian Art Division, National Museum of  Korea)

2. History and Culture Class

   14:00 ~ 16:00, February 21 (Wednesday), 2018

   Main auditorium

   Subject and Speakers: Tigers in Korean Folk Painting - Yoon Yeolsu (Director of Gahoe Musem)

3. Hands-on Exhibition, titled “Grrr, I Am a Tiger”

   January 26 ~ May 31, 2018

   Children’s Museum

   This is a hands-on exhibition for children featuring pictures and stories in a tiger picture book.

4. Performance “Journey of Fantasy,” In Search of the Tiger, A Journey for the “Album of Paintings” by Kim Hong-do (New pansori, Korean folk opera)

   March 10 ~ March 11, 2018

   Theater Yong

   This is a story about Kim Hong-do going into the wild to find a tiger to do sketches for an album of paintings and his encounter with a tiger.


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