Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty ... ...


I'm currently reading a book by Bae Yong Joon, called, 'A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty'.

Bae Yong Joon is not what you'd call your typical writer. He's  one of East Asia's foremost actors and an ardent supporter of intercultural communication and exchange.  Bae Yong Joon sees staying in touch with Korea's past as important for the future of humanity, and this book is a creative and heartwarming record of the insights he's gained through taking that journey.

I'm finding it quite absorbing as this famous, seasoned traveller  takes a journey through his own country, making an effort to take particular notice of the traditions, people, and the beauty of Korea.

Reading the book has made me think that so often, I don't appreciate what I grew up with and even what's around me today.  It's so easy to take everything for granted, focusing on our goals, instead of the journey that carries us there.

One of the reasons for my fascination with Korea is it's traditions, and in particular, the art of making Hanji paper and of doing Hanji crafts.

In one section of the book Bae Yong Joon  looks into the traditional craft of Hanji making. He visited Jangjibang, the biggest paper mill in Korea at Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do Province, where he met with Jang the owner.

I visited Jang's shop in Insadong last year and was amazed at the wonderful papers his store had to offer.  The walls were covered with Hanji that looked like marble and the shelves were full of amazingly natural looking textures and shades. You could see and feel the artistry that went into each and every piece.

Bae was amazed at the processes that go into making Hanji  paper by using the old methods. He comments on how old the equipment looked and how difficult the conditions were for the workers. Apparently there's a Korean saying, 'I'd rather eat sand than see my son become a paper maker.'

Traditional paper making is  strenuous and difficult and not many young people want to take up this profession today but, things are slowly changing and hand made paper is becoming more popular. It's often talked about as a work of 'sophisticated design'.  There's still a long way to go because of the cheaper cost and ease of mechanical paper production but, the trend is looking promising for the industry.

I recommend that you check out his book.  It's well written, has some great photos and gives you a good insight into some of the Korean traditions .....  he's not bad looking either !

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,I am newbie to the discussion.Thanks for sharing blog.Keep good work and update more things regularly in the blog.

    South Korea

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