Korea Craft Week returns but this time, centers itself in Bukchon
The annual 10-day Korea Craft Week is back and for the first time, a specific area has been designated to celebrate crafts: Bukchon in Jongno District, central Seoul.
Korea Craft Week 2023 begins on Friday and lasts through May 28.
Since its first edition in 2018, Korea Craft Week has been hosted and organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Craft and Design Foundation (KCDF).
Every year the KCDF strives to increase the number and quality of programs for the entire nation to participate in.
Events range from exhibitions, flea markets, seminars and hands-on programs. This year there are 1,835 programs, a 78-percent increase from last year.
The programs tend to be scattered across the country, which is why in this edition, the KCDF decided to pinpoint a main region that is closely related to the genre of Korean crafts.
“Crafts have developed over the years based on regional aspects, like their materials or techniques,” Choi Jae-il, head of the KCDF’s craft division, told press on Thursday. “There are a lot of stories to tell regarding where these crafts came from. We’re hoping to be able to dive into the culture behind crafts through these areas.”
Bukchon is a historically significant neighborhood when it comes to Korean crafts. It was known to be an upscale village during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) where families of yangban (Korean noblemen) lived in large hanok (Korean traditional houses). Because the five royal palaces were situated here, the neighborhood was home to many workshops that created royal crafts.
To this day their descendants have continued on with the craftsmanship and are based in Jongno District’s Gahoe-dong, Samcheong-dong and Wonseo-dong.
Bukchon is also where Korea’s only craft museum — the Seoul Museum of Craft Art — is located.
The overall theme of Korea Craft Week 2023 is “National Craft Contest” (translated), a parody of the long-running weekly singing show “National Singing Contest” on KBS, which has been on air since 1980.
“There are so many small crafts in everyday life that people tend to overlook that we wanted to make sure to proudly promote them this year,” said Kim Tae-hoon, president of the KCDF. “And we want everyone to enjoy them, which is why we have also prepared a special exhibition that features crafts made by children with developmental disabilities.”
Sixty children, 19 of them who have intellectual disabilities and attend E-eun School, a special education school in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, have each created ceramic plates that express something they are proud of or like.
Some have chosen to illustrate their name, a puppy, fruit or ice cream.
Oh Ga-young, curator of the exhibition, which is titled “Twinkle Twinkle Little Hands,” stressed that the main goal is to “allow anyone to enjoy the beauty of crafts and break down the boundaries between people who have disabilities and those who do not.”
The exhibition is being held at the Culture Station Seoul 284 RTO in Jung District, central Seoul, a one-minute walk from Seoul Station, subway line No. 1.
“It’s always been our purpose to encourage the public to use crafts in their everyday lives,” Choi said. “Crafts embody dedication, value and the human touch, which distinguishes it from factory-made products.”
More information on the programs is available on Korea Craft Week 2023’s website.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]