The Humboldt Forum in Berlin has removed pieces from its special exhibition of Korean artifacts in response to reports of inaccuracies in the displayed information, the National Museum of Korea said Monday.
The exhibition, titled "Ari-Arirang," was aimed to commemorate the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Germany and to introduce Korean traditions and culture. Opened on Oct. 12, the exhibition is scheduled to run until April 21, 2024.
About 120 items from some 1,800 Korean artifacts and photos held by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, most of them dating from the 14th to the early 20th century collected primarily by Germans, are on display at the Humboldt Forum.
A photograph titled "Water Bearer" from the Joseon era, which depicts a woman holding a jar on her head with exposed breasts, has been removed from the exhibition.
Originally, the photo was attributed to Adolf Fischer, who was thought to have taken the photo during his five-week visit to Korea in 1905, while working at the German Embassy in Beijing.
However, research suggests that the photo is more likely to have been taken by a Japanese photographer and which had been in circulation as early as the mid-1890s. The photo was later featured in a compiled album of Korean customs and landscapes published by the Japanese-run Gyeongseong Photo Studio in 1907, according to the National Museum of Korea.
The accompanying caption at the exhibition stated that starting in the mid-Joseon era, women took great pride in bearing sons because only sons had the right to carry on the family name and inherit assets. Lower-class women were depicted revealing their nursing breasts, symbolizing their pride in having given birth to sons, the caption said.
Kim Kyung-hyup, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, raised the issue of inaccuracies at the German museum exhibition during the parliamentary audit of the Korean Embassy in Germany on Saturday. Kim pointed out that the explanation reinforced a perception of Joseon culture as "inferior" and "uncivilized," as intended by Japan at the time of its circulation.