According to the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) of South Korea, a royal bridal gown from the Joseon dynasty era held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is set to return to the country for restoration this month. BTS RM‘s ₩100 million KRW (about $72,100 USD) donation to Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation (OKCHF) in September 2021 has made this major move possible.
This histoical silk red robe, called a hwarot, is believed to be one of the only 40 such existing wedding garments worn by Korean princesses and one of the 10 such pieces owned by organizations outside of Korea. In 1939, this piece was donated to LACMA by the collector of Eastern textiles Bella Mabury. The embroidery on the garment carries many cultural symbols such as peonies and butterflies to signifiy longevity and auspicousness, along with phrases such as, “Fortune is like the rivers and seas.”
As soon as the agreement around the hwarot‘s arrival in Korea is finalised, CHA specialists will conduct a full inspection to understand its current state and then the restoration process will begin using traditional methods. It is expected to take around five months to complete the process, after whih the robe will be displayed at the National Palace Museum in South Korea next year and at LACMA in 2024. A CHA spokesperson stated, “For South Korea and the US, as the country of origin and the country of ownership, respectively, preserving and conserving our cultural heritage together is the core of this project…The project will also help raise awareness of this cultural heritage both at home and abroad.”
After the news broke, Korean netizens appear to be extremely happy and proud of RM’s contribution towards preserving the country’s culture and hertiage. Twitter is aflame with praises and even non-fans now want him to become the next president.
It is worth noting that this not the first time RM’s donation has gone to such a meaningful cause. For years, he has been making special donations on his birthday, September 12, to support Korean arts infrastructure. In 2020 he donated ₩100 million KRW (about $72,100 USD) to the government-owned Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) to reprint and distribute old catalogues that went out of print or were sold out to public institutions and school libraries.This year’s donation to OKCHF will reportedly contribute towards creating a catalog Korean masterpiece paintings owned by foreign institutions and museums.