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Common App: "May I Have Your Attention, Please?"


Young Jie Cho

Admitted: Brown

Question: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

May I have your attention, please?

As you know, this exhibition contains selected pieces from the collection of Young Jie Cho, who has dedicated her entire life to gathering precious artworks all over the world. It is gratifying that she agreed to share her dearest treasures. We even had an opportunity to interview her. So now, we proudly display our selection from Cho’s treasure box and reveal her hidden stories.

Jerôme Duquesnoy

Manneken Pis,

1618 -Bronze

A naked little boy is urinating into a fountain’s basin. The original landmark of Brussels had restored itself in Cho’s storage. When Cho was in kindergarten, she wondered why females could not use the male’s urinal. So one day, she confidently stood up and asked whether she could visit the men’s room.

Surprised by her audacity and impressed by her precocious inquiry, the bewildered teachers held a meeting to discuss what happened in Ms. Yoon’s Sunflower Class. Therefore, to answer the kid’s subconscious and innate query, teachers decided to let girls look around the boy’s toilet and vice versa for the boys. This piece is interpreted as a projection of Cho’s chutzpah. During the interview, she said that she learned three things from that incident: bravery can come from audacity, a ludicrous question can sometimes be the key to mutual understanding, and male urinals have automatic flushing systems.

René Magritte

The Son of Man, 1964

-Oil on canvas

A hovering green apple is obscuring a gentleman’s face. Cho answered that this piece reminds her of the apple thrown by herself during Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving Day.

At the age of eleven, Cho did not know the word “feminist”; all she knew was that her family’s annual rites were extremely unfair. Women had to undertake arduous chores in a small, cramped kitchen while male relatives chattered and smoked cigarettes in the living room. Cho was ordered by her aunt to carry back and forth a plate full of apple pieces. When she saw her father sitting on the sofa with other male relatives, she could not bear her visceral anger, so Cho grasped the pieces and threw them like a shot-put player. She later mentioned at her interview that even though she was punished for her presumptuousness, she was so gratified that she ignored all the roars and silently giggled. Her father later apologized to her in person, but she did not pardon him until he promised not to let women do all the chores again.

He Dazi

Gathering Gems of Beauty: Portrait of Mulan, Qing dynasty

-Album leaf, ink, and colors on silk

This piece is the oldest work Cho possesses. It is the portrait of Hua Mulan, Cho’s martial arts hero. Since Cho was young, she has been a skilled Taekwondo trainee. However, the reality was harsh. Despite the numerous roof tiles she smashed, it was difficult for her to break through countless prejudices. People told her to be more “feminine” – that Taekwondo makes a girl too strong, too brave, and too ambitious. But fortunately, Cho’s parents, unlike Mulan’s, believed in their kid’s potential, and Cho eventually earned a black belt.

During Cho’s senior year, she challenged herself by tackling Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art often compared with Taekwondo. To her surprise, most of the trainees were middle-aged women with elegant and agile moves. One lady, while helping Cho practice basic moves, told her that she saw her young reflection in Cho. Then Cho realized that reflections can differ based on perspectives, so regardless of how others judge her identity, she should pursue her interests.

This is the end of the exhibition.

Did you have fun?

Cho is still actively involved in art collecting.

And your choice affects her new collection.

Young Jie Cho Script for Exhibition Guide, 2016

-Tears and sweat on digital canvas, 637 words

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