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BTS' RM honored for helping to preserve overseas Korean cultural artifacts

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BTS' RM / Courtesy of HYBE
BTS' RM / Courtesy of HYBE

By Kwak Yeon-soo

BTS' leader RM received an appreciation plaque from the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) for his contribution to preserving and restoring overseas Korean cultural artifacts.

RM, whose real name is Kim Nam-joon, shared a post on his Instagram Story, Friday, with a short "Thank You" note. The engraving on the appreciation plaque reads, "You have contributed to preserving and promoting Korean cultural artifacts outside the country with great affection for our cultural heritage and history. You are being honored with much appreciation and gratitude."

The K-pop superstar is well known for his keen interest in and engagement with the art community. RM is often spotted in museums and galleries even during the group's busy tours and publicity schedules, and the rapper-singer shares his exhibition visits on social media. His fans also visit the places where the star has visited, calling it an "RM tour." He also collects a diverse set of works by domestic and foreign artists.

He has donated 100 million won ($74,609) to the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, an affiliate of CHA, for the second consecutive year, asking that the money be used to preserve and restore Korean cultural assets abroad. In September 2020, he donated 100 million won to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

Thanks to his efforts, the foundation has worked with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to preserve "hwarot," an embroidered bridal costume worn by royal women during the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom. There are only about 40 robes left in the world, including about 30 in Korea. The hwarot at the LACMA is believed to date back to the early 20th century.

The hwarot will be displayed to the public at the National Palace Museum in Seoul next year following conservation work, according to the foundation. In 2024, it will return to the LACMA.

RM also participated in an audio guide for 10 Korean art pieces at "The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art," an exhibition at LACMA, through Feb. 19. The first major exhibition of modern Korean art ever held in the West explores the development of modern art in Korea driven by artists' encounters with, and reinterpretations of, the foreign influences that came along to shape it.

RM also infuses his passion for art into his album. RM posed with late Yun Hyong-keun's art piece "Blue" in the concept photograph for his first official solo album "Indigo," which will be released on Dec. 2.

Kwak Yeon-soo

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