Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wonju Hanji Festival 2010

Although it is over now the Wonju Hanji Festival was a real treat. This time of year in Korea is packed with festivals both in Seoul and in other regions. Actually I chose to go to this festival over the Korea International Art Fair, which I usually go to every year. I figured why not see something new.

(I apologize for this map having "Sea of Japan" and "Liancourt Rocks" as both areas are known as the "East Sea" and "Dokdo.")
Korea, like it's neighbors, has a long history with paper making. Long ago paper was used to decorate the windows, and control the humidity and temperature of the room. "It's thickness has been thick in cold regions and thin in hot regions." According the booklet I got from the information booth.

Korean people have taken hanji paper and it used for many things in their life, books, windows, clothes and furnishings are just a few examples. Hanji from Wonju is specially known for being colorful and used for handicrafts. Also since Wonju is a well known place for mulberry bark to grow there was already an appreciation of it in the area. I was excited to come to the Hanji festival because I hoped to see the products and also the opportunity to make crafts.

Merchant and Craft Booths:
The festival was placed along the side of a sloping hill. As you walked your way up to where the main museum and center was you were greeted with merchant and craft tents.
We walked around and looked at the various crafts made from Hanji, such as small dishes, mirrors, fans and even pinwheels. The range in colors and craftsmanship was a pleasant site.
There was one booth where you could make a kite. On the back wall of this tent there were examples of kites that looked familiar to Japanese samurai clan flags. In fact, I learned from JH, that these were meant to mimic Japanese flags during the times of invasion so that they would get confused.
A few booths sold natural-fiber clothing (which I really love) and silk handicrafts.

One could even find Hanji lamps for sale.
There was one booth that had hanji style furniture, such as shelves and little cabinets.

When we got all the way up the hill we found booths that specialized in selling actual hanji. There were many varieties with prints and different textures.

Another aspect of the festival was the possibility of making your own hanji crafts. For a small price you could walk away with a hanji mirror, lamp or painted fan. There were assistants at every craft corner to help you out.
There were a lot of kids there and this didn't bother me. But oddly at one corner there were beetles on display for kids to touch. However, I will note that kids like to keep these types of beetles as pets so it wasn't too out of place.
Beetle larvae...

I have to say those beetles are really strong, that thing tried hard to wiggle his way out of my grasp!

Enjoying the Stroll:
As you went from one area to the next it seemed the coordinators cleverly decorated the paths and park areas with Hanji lanterns.

These lanterns were made by local school children.
The park area had a display of lanterns on the ground, which I figured looked lovely at night when all lit up.

Hanji Museum
What would a festival about paper be complete without a museum? Well that is exactly what we found here.

On the first floor was a historical showcase of hanji and how it is made, while the second floor had contemporary works (didn't make it up there).
To make paper they start right from the source by using mulberry bark. First they boil down the bark while removing the black and green parts making it become white. Then it is soaked, washed, dried and put in bleaching water. The next process is that it is pounded on a flat stone with a wooden club for 2-3 hours. This loosens the fibers. Next they use a "skimming and draining" process of combining the mulberry fibers with hibiscus in a water box. The floating fibers are skimmed off using a strainer. 

To get the paper actually made the heap of skimmed paper is put on a wooden panel, covered and pressed. After being left out in the sun to dry it is practically finished.

Talk about a laborious craft! To think we just throw paper away so easily.
I liked these clever booklets with the paper folding and popping out. 
 The museum was nice and really gave you a great perspective on how it is made.

Make Your Own Paper!
After the museum we found ourselves in the making and demonstration area.

Here, for a small fee, you could make your paper from scratch. I did just that and will have a video showing you the process soon. For now you can enjoy the pictures I took of the area.

The festival was really great and I do have one charming story. As we were sitting down to enjoy some tteok (freshly made rice cakes) two middle school girls sat across from us. They giggled, of course, and I smiled at them. Then they spoke in Korean to JH, but I chimed in with, "Can you speak English?" They giggled again and I said, "Hello" and that got them started. They were sweet and cute, which made me feel hopeful towards teaching middle school (something I might aim for). 

We left the festival after exhausting everything it had possible to do, but it was altogether a great time.

Dinner and a Rose Garden
For dinner we had a meal of bbq galbi at a restaurant in the downtown area of Wonju.

After our yummy and fulfilling meal we headed back to the car, but realized there was a rose garden in a park nearby.

I had fun with my camera and was enjoying capturing the water droplets. We ran into one bush that had a funky looking bug on it.

We left Wonju behind and found ourselves in a typical traffic jam. On the way, while it was stop and go, there were people in the middle of the road selling drinks and snacks. JH picked up some of those flat rice cakes.
Funny guy~


  1. I can't wait for the video! Jjang! I went to Wonju once for teacher training, no tourist stuff. *sigh*

  2. Hey Joy~

    I found out something wrong on your first picture..
    They are saying "Sea of Japan"
    Definitely it should have revised "East Sea"!

    anyways, when are you going to post some videos?? haha

  3. OOPS!

    Sorry baby~
    I have just watched the tiny explanation below the picture..^^

  4. haha ~

    I knew someone would see it! Wanted to make sure I didn't offend anybody.

  5. I went all the way to Wonju for the hanji festival last year but it was closed because of the H1N1 scare. I was so disappointed. So instead my friend Anne-Marie taught me how to make hanji boxes.

    Lovely flower photos btw Joy!

  6. That's too bad. Yea last year I wanted to go to a lot of festivals but the virus closed them down. This year they are in full swing. :) thanks!

  7. Thanx Joy v. interesting n some beautiful fotos!

    I really miss the rose garden in Sac, it was one of favorite places to hang out in.


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