The main room at the Tate Modern; by Camera Freak via Flickr
The talented Ms Shin (or how one woman conned her way into South Korea’s cultural aristocracy)via The Independent
By Daniel Jeffreys in Seoul
Published: 13 July 2007
Imagine an attractive and talented young woman who said she had an art history doctorate from Oxford. Vivacious and persuasive, she becomes the director of the Tate Gallery. Then, just after being hired to curate the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, she is exposed as a fake who failed to get a single A-level.
This scenario, reminiscent of a Patrica Highsmith novel with its hint of The Talented Mr Ripley, is precisely the scandal now rocking the Korean art world after one of its rising stars, Shin Jeong-ah, was unveiled as a fraud.
Until this week, Shin, 35, was at the top of her profession. Claiming to have a doctorate from Yale and a master’s degree from Kansas University, she was the youngest professor at Seoul’s prestigious Dongguk University and the head curator of the Sungkok Art Museum, home to some of Korea’s most prestigious exhibitions and the recipient of millions of pounds in corporate sponsorship from the country’s biggest conglomerates.
In the past 12 months Shin’s shows have included high-profile retrospectives for the British illustrator John Burningham and the French multi-media artist Alain Fleischer. The latter was a major event organised as part of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and France. The opening, which Shin attended in her role as chief curator, was hosted by the French ambassador to Seoul.