Controversy brews over nominee for Sejong Center head

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Sept 30, 2021 - 16:09
  • Updated : Sept 30, 2021 - 19:48

An artist draws a cartoon at a protest held by art groups in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The local culture scene has continued to protest the nomination of Ahn Ho-sang as the new head of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

Some artists and art groups held a protest Thursday in front of the art center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, calling for Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon to withdraw the nomination of Ahn as the new CEO of the city-funded art center, citing the blacklist scandal.

“Ahn is deeply involved in the blacklist scandal. The investigation shows that he is an assailant who carried out actions of blacklisting,” protesters said.

Ahn, 62, is the dean of Hongik University’s Graduate School of Performing Arts.

As he has been nominated as the head of the Sejong Center by a committee, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is running a screening of Ahn’s qualifications, which will be followed by an official appointment made by Oh in early October if he passes.

Ahn worked as the head of the National Theater of Korea from 2012 to 2017, before stepping down from his post amid suspicions related to the blacklist scandal, in which past administrations under former Presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak kept a list of cultural figures to be excluded from receiving state support.

The art groups held a press event Tuesday requesting that Oh drop Ahn from the nomination.

“We waited for the blacklist assailants to reveal their own wrongdoings and address the suspicions with regret. But reality turned out to be different. Most assailants have stayed silent and neglected the scandal, waiting to return to the posts of power,” the art groups announced at the press conference.

Ahn has worked in the performing arts world for years, including his post at the Seoul Arts Center. He was the head of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture and the National Theater of Korea. Though he took his second post at the national art center in January 2017, he stepped down nearly eight months later amid suspicions of involvement in the blacklist scandal.

The nominee has denied any relation to the scandal through a media interview.

By Im Eun-byel (