Two ar­ti­sans hon­ored for pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional art

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Jin Yu-young Jin Yu-young is a Korea Times in­tern.

The YEOL Korean Her­itage Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety rec­og­nizes and com­mem­o­rates the works of crafts­men who prac­tice and pre­serve the cul­ture of Korean tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts. This year’s Ar­ti­san of the Year is Lim Keum-hee, who has mas­tered the art of “da­hoe-mangsu” over the past 30 years. The Young Crafts­man of the Year award goes to Kim Sanghoon, who re­cently won 1st Ju­nior Prize at the Sil­ver Tri­en­nial in Ger­many.

Since its launch in 2014, the YEOL Project has cho­sen one out­stand­ing in­di­vid­ual ev­ery year in each of these cat­e­gories. Chaired by Kim Young M’Young, the daugh­ter-in-law of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, YEOL is a Korean word mean­ing care­fully pre­serve the beauty of Korean cul­tural her­itage.

Da­hoe is a cord (or cords) that is wo­ven from silk thread, while mangsu is an in­tri­cately wo­ven net at the bot­tom of the cords. Of­ten­times, the fi­nal prod­uct is fin­ished with tas­sel­ing de­tails at the ends and is shined with gilt pa­per or dusted quartz. Da­hoe-mangsu was widely used in the 1392-1910 Joseon era for fash­ion and cer­e­mo­nial pur­poses and was, ac­cord­ing to Lim in an email in­ter­view, “ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to the fash­ion of the [time].” She also de­scribed its rar­ity in modern-day cul­ture as part of her ded­i­ca­tion to keep­ing the art form alive.

Mas­ter Lim men­tioned the con­trast be­tween the com­plex na­ture of so­ci­ety and the tran­quil­ity of cre­at­ing da­hoe-mangsu. “Un­like the com­pli­cated real world, da­hoe-mangsu can be cre­ated with the con­cen­tra­tion, pa­tience, and del­i­cacy of a sin­gle thought,” she said. “I love that its beau­ti­ful na­ture al­lows me to fully im­merse my­self.”

She also spoke of the chang­ing times of tra­di­tional Korean art cul­ture and the im­pli­ca­tions of its mod­ern­iza­tion. “The most cru­cial as­pect of tra­di­tional art is its trans­mis­sion. To­day, how­ever, this is lack­ing. … If ma­te­ri­als, de­sign, color, pack­ag­ing, and even ex­hi­bi­tion space can be prop­erly ad­justed, I think that mod­ern­ized tra­di­tional Korean art could ef­fec­tively come into its own.” Crafts­man Kim also shared his ex­pe­ri­ences and thoughts on his metal work through an email in­ter­view with The Korea Times. He works mainly with sil­ver, nickel and red brass and uses tech­niques called rais­ing and chas­ing to cre­ate shapes and tex­tures in his pieces.

“I orig­i­nally ma­jored in vis­ual de­sign, but soon re­al­ized that learn­ing about com­puter pro­grams or sit­ting in front of a com­puter screen was not right for me,” he said. “On the other hand, crafts­man­ship piqued my in­ter­est in that I could phys­i­cally deal with ac­tual ma­te­ri­als … I liked the fact that rather than just cre­at­ing a 2D vis­ual, I could ex­press my thoughts with my own hands and tools.”

Many of Kim’s works dis­play mo­tifs from na­ture.

“Na­ture has this free air about it. Rocks and cliffs give off a strong, in­tense im­pres­sion while si­mul­ta­ne­ously hav­ing this iso­lated qual­ity to them. Bod­ies of wa­ter or flow­ing streams have a soft and dy­namic prop­erty. I wanted to ex­press this di­verse im­agery in my pieces.”

Kim hopes to give those who are busy with their ev­ery­day lives a sense of peace through his work. “Al­though we see the sky, the clouds and even the Han River, we are not able to see much na­ture in the city be­cause of space or time con­straints. I wanted to em­u­late in our homes and build­ings those in­stances of when we ob­serve na­ture,” he said.

Both Lim and Kim were present at the 2019 YEOL Project open­ing event held on Sept. 19.

There they gave their re­gards to those who had sup­ported them and also ex­pressed their hopes for the con­tin­u­a­tion of YEOL and its fu­ture project en­deav­ors.

Many of their works were on dis­play at the ex­hi­bi­tion, which will run at YEOL Buk­chonga & Hanok in Jongno-gu un­til Oct. 19.

Cour­tesy of YÉOL Korean Her­itage Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety

Me­tal­work artist Kim Sang-hoon’s works, top, are on view at the YEOL Project open­ing event in Jongno-gu, Seoul on Sep. 19. Kim, right bot­tom, was cho­sen as the Young Crafts­man of the Year. Lim Keum-hee, mas­ter of da­hoe-mangsu, won the Ar­ti­san of the Year.

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