Yi Joungmin (1971–2019) and Jin Shiu (1975–2019), both members of Okin Collective

Jin Shiu and Yi Joungmin of Okin Collective

Two members of Okin Collective, Jin Shiu and Yi Joungmin, have died. The cause of death was suicide. They were found in their home in Seoul on 17 August. Artforum has reported that the artists had sent close friends an email, shared with the press, that alluded to their financial difficulties as well as internal conflicts within the collective: “We are both physically and mentally exhausted, but hereby summon our last remaining strength to bid farewell for the last time . . . We are very sorry to have caused distress to those of you who have heard about the conflict with Okin Collective. If we are to be blamed for the measures that we have taken as people in charge of Okin Collective, we would like to take the responsibility through these means, at very least.”

Founded in 2009 by Jin, Yi and Hwayong Kim, Okin Collective responded to the gentrification projects sweeping South Korea, including a civil apartment complex from which the collective’s name derives and which had housed families on a long-term basis before being destroyed and replaced by a park. To protest the razing of the apartments, Okin Collective staged a series of interventions and installations around the demolition site highlighting the lack of government concern over social welfare and conditions of living. Since then, Jin, Yi and Kim have self-produced Okin Internet Radio on which they broadcast interviews, performances and discussions, including reportage on the Fukishima radiation leak.

Okin Collective was nominated as a finalist for the Korean Art Prize, awarded by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, in 2018, but later that year had apparently ceased working.

Jin and Yi’s letter concludes: “We just feel forlorn as we have tried to prove the sincerity and efforts we put into making art. This may sound foolish, but we believed artists were ‘people who make art’ and [for whom] ‘art is everything in their lives.’”

23 August 2019

22 August 2019