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Korean craft exhibitions surging internationally

November 19, 2013

Saudi Arabia, Taiwan to hold Korean exhibitions

The “Constancy and Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2013” exhibition took place at the Milan International Furniture Fair in Italy in April. /  Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

The “Constancy and Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2013” exhibition took place at the Milan International Furniture Fair in Italy in April.
(Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

By Chung ah-young

Korean craft works have sparked interest in overseas markets, and the government is doing all it can to capitalize on the momentum that has been generated.

The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said calls from around the world for Korean craft exhibitions have surged since the “Constancy and Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2013” exhibition wowed a European audience at the Milan International Furniture Fair in Italy in April.

The Saudi Arabian and Taiwanese governments have scheduled Korean craft exhibitions. The “Hidden Match ― An Exhibition of Korean Craft” supported by the Korean culture ministry and the Korea Craft and Design Foundation (KCDF) will be held at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia for one month starting from Nov. 24.

A total of 106 pieces of Korean craftworks will be on display at the “Hidden Match — An Exhibition of Korean Craft” at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia for one month starting from Nov. 24.

A total of 106 pieces of Korean craft works will be on display at the “Hidden Match — An Exhibition of Korean Craft” at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia for one month starting from Nov. 24.

The exhibition will focus on Korean craft works with aesthetic elements of both tradition and modernity. This is a first-of-its kind show of Korean crafts in Saudi Arabia. The exhibition came about after the Korean government and Saudi Arabian representatives from the Supervisory Committee of the National Program for Development of Handicraft and Handmade Articles Industries agreed to conduct joint projects to enhance the cultural exchanges in the areas of heritage and handicrafts in May. Following the Korean show there, the “Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages” exhibition will take place in Korea.

The show will reflect reinterpretations of Korean artists’ inherited methods in new ways while adopting new technology to enhance their craftsmanship. Particularly, the artworks which were designed for use in daily life will be on display.

Eun Byung-soo, CEO of the Eun Council, is an artistic director for the exhibition, which will display a total of 106 pieces of Korean work from traditional white porcelain (Kwon Dae-sup), modern green ceramics (Lee Ka-jin), kitchenware (Woo Il-yo), “najeon” or lacquer ware inlaid with mother-of-pearl (Song Bang-ung and Sohn Dae-hyun), “ipsa” or metal craft (Hong Jung-sil), “ottchil” or traditional lacquer art and jewelry (Bang Hwa-sun) to textiles (Lee Sun-hak). Along with the exhibition, artists will hold demonstrations of how they work.

A chest created with “najeon” or lacquer art inlaid with mother-of-pearl by Sohn Dae-hyun will be on display at the Taiwan International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo from Nov. 21-24. / Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

A chest created with “najeon” or lacquer art inlaid with mother-of-pearl by Sohn Dae-hyun will be on display at the Taiwan International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo from Nov. 21-24.
(Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

Also, the “Constancy and Change in Korean Traditional Craft 2013” exhibition which took place in Milan will be brought to the Taiwan International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo from Nov. 21-24.

Hosted by Taiwan’s Culture Ministry, the expo is an annual international event which draws more than 80,000 visitors a year, focusing on crafts and design.

Sohn Hye-won, CEO of Cross Point, who directed the Milan exhibition in April, will deliver a speech about business opportunities for innovation in the Asian-Pacific craft industry during the exhibition.

“It is meaningful that the two exhibitions have been requested by the Saudi Arabian and Taiwanese governments. They will have a positive impact on future events and cultural exchanges overseas,” an official of the ministry official, said.

To nurture the craft sector as the nation’s next cultural brand akin to K-pop, the Korean government plans to expand its overseas participation based on this year’s achievements. It will increase the size of the exhibition at the Milan International Furniture Fair next year to mark the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Italy.

Also in 2015, it will display a special exhibition of Korean craftworks at the Museum of Decorative Arts (Musee des Arts Decoratifs) in Paris, France.

The Korean culture ministry recently revealed a long-term project, which encompasses more international exchanges with other countries and creates craft-friendly regions, while connecting traditional artworks to modern needs.

The government will designate 20 workshops to make the public feel closer to arts and crafts, and 10 masterpieces by 2017. It will also support product development and overseas marketing. The ministry will select five villages know for their craftworks and develop them as art-related tourism spots.

The government will also support more participation at international fairs such as France’s Maison & Objet, Britain’s Collect and the U.S.’s SOFA, while making forays into Southeast Asia countries such as Thailand and Singapore. It plans to hold the world crafts expo in 2015 to promote them globally.

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