In 1951, as the Korean War dragged on, a young artist named Park Jae-Hong headed toward Seoul. The conflict had cut short his first year at art school, and he had been forced into service, first by the North, then by the South, stationed in coastal Masan. He had survived aircraft attacks, meager rations, bitter cold — and had managed to get discharged. Back in the capital, trying to raise tuition money, Park asked soldiers from the United States if he could do their portraits. He traded their dollars for won — Korea’s currency — and bought art supplies and congee made with leftovers from military bases. “One cup of that and a glass of soju, and I would be very happy,” he recalled, through a translator, during a recent afternoon visit.

A pink scarf wrapped around his neck, Park was sitting in the Gizi, a sprawling residence, workspace and gallery in Seoul where he has lived with family since 2018. Some of his works — radiantly colored abstractions vibrating with thin lines — hung nearby. Today he is a “figure of towering influence, as a teacher and as an artist,” said Alexandra Munroe, the Guggenheim Museum’s senior curator for Asian art. In November he will turn 90.

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