Here a woman in traditional Korean clothing (hanbok) is seated in the marketplace with a large jar. Sookeun's paintings are unassuming and unpretentious, but it is these very qualities, combined with the abstract, simplified rendering of hardworking common folk that give Sookeun's work their timeless power and poetry. His subject matter resonates today with nostalgia for a lost era of Korean history.
Sookeun's work was widely appreciated by Americans stationed in Seoul during the 1960s. Now it is prized by Korean collectors and museums as well. The Bando Gallery at the Choson Hotel began exhibiting his paintings in 1956, selling them for a nominal sum to clients who were predominantly Americans.
Sookeun's body of work is thought to be quite small, perhaps no more than 400 paintings. His career was cut short by his premature death from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of fifty-one in 1965. During the past ten years since Christie's, New York began selling his work, he has become the most sought-after modern Korean master.
Fifteen paintings by Park Sookeun have been sold at Christie's, New York: Farmers, 27 April, 1993, lot 45; Dancers, 17 November, 1993, lot 121; Woman beneath a tree, 27 April, 1994, lot 101; Country village, 25 October, 1994, lot 78; Three women and child, 26 April, 1995, lot 77; Farm houses, 26 March, 1996, lot 67; Men smoking, 31 October, 1996, lot 110; The jobless, 23 March, 1999, lot 311 and 15 October, 2001, lot 333; Mother and child, 15 September, 1999, lot 384; Four women and child, 23 March, 2000, lot 379; Mother and child walking under trees, 19 September, 2000, lot 410; Winter, 22 March, 2002, lot 223; Woman pounding grain, 18 September, 2002, lot 432; Han il (Leisure time), 24 March, 2003, lot 326; Three women seated in the marketplace, 16 September, 2004, lot 430.