Korea National University of Arts renames theater to honor late literary giant Lee O-young

Korea National University of Arts renamed its theater at its Seokgwan-dong campus in central Seoul as the Lee O Young Art Theater on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of its establishment. [KOREA NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF ARTS]

The Korea National University of Arts (K-Arts) decided to rename its theater located on its Seokgwan-dong campus in central Seoul as the Lee O Young Art Theater to mark the 30th anniversary of the school’s establishment.

On Tuesday, the university held a ceremony to unveil the new signboard of the theater. Kang In-sook, the late Lee’s wife who is currently the director of Young-in Library Museum, attended the event.

Lee, Korea’s late literary giant, passed away early this year at the age of 88. During his term as the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 1992, Lee took the lead in enacting the law that became the foundation to establish a national arts institution after realizing that Korea has no specialized university devoted to fostering artistic talents. Thirty years later, the school’s graduates, which include actors Kim Go-eun, Han Ye-ri, Park So-dam, ballet dancer Kim Ki-min and pianists Son Yeol-eum and Kim Sun-wook, are making their names known to the world.

“Lee O-young, who served as Korea’s first culture minister, played a crucial role in establishing the Korea National University of Arts together with Lee Kang-sook, who became the first president of the university,” said Kim Dae-jin, the current president of K-Arts, who was appointed in August 2021. “To mark the 30th anniversary of the school, we decided to change the name of the theater to commemorate Lee’s spirit and his passion to nurture and educate creative artists in Korea. He allowed us to have hope that Korean artists, too, can have an impact on the world.”

K-Arts will have a special birthday party on Oct. 31 at the newly named theater. The event will be attended by some 500 people including the current Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon, along with faculty members and notable alumni.

Actor Jin Sun-kyu, who is known for films including “Space Sweepers” (2021) and “Confidential Assignment 2: International” (2022) and is currently studying at the university, will host the event. Various performances will also be staged by students and alumni.

On Tuesday, Kim also introduced the road map for the school and said the school will go through various changes in the next few years to “make a new leap forward as a global university.” One such change involves increasing exchanges of students and faculty with foreign schools, ultimately raising its rank on the QS World University Ranking. K-Arts is currently ranked at 42nd in the QS World University Rankings in the Performing Arts category.