|Hanji, the Korean traditional
paper, is an integral part of Korean traditional culture. For more
than 1,600 years, it has played a central role in the lives of Koreans,
who learned to use it in a dizzying number of ways. From books to
walls, to windows and floors of houses to coffins, hanji was practically
an everyday necessity for Koreans, from the day they were born to
the day they died. Let’s take a closer look at this fantastic paper,
which captures so well the essence and soul of Korean people.
is the name of the Korean traditional paper. It is made
from the bark of mulberry trees called chomok.
There are three slightly different kinds of mulberry
trees in Korea, depending on the climatic conditions
in which they grow. Each kind of mulberry tree produces
a specific type of hanji with a specific use. Mayopjong
for example, which is mainly found in the center of
the country, has a tough but thin bark with relatively
few fibers. It is chiefly used as wall and floor paper.
On the other hand, Yojojong has a thick bark with smooth
and long fibers, which makes it ideal for calligraphy
Origins of Hanji
Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese
eunuch, is said to have invented this paper in 105 A.D.
In Korea, the origins of hanji are somewhat mysterious
because it is not clearly documented. However, ancient
Japanese chronicles mention a certain monk named Tamjing
bringing with him to Japan in 605 paper, ink, an ink
stone and a grinding stone.
From Korea, the art
of making paper was quickly introduced in Japan.
of Hanji ]
many qualities which make it an exceptional
It is durable, it can indeed
last for well over a thousand years, it
is smooth to the touch, it ventilates well,
it isolates well and finally it is sheen
Compared to the
fibers of the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino
mulberry trees, the fibers of the Korean
mulberry tree are longer, stronger, and
is quite sheen, which gives a higher quality
to the paper.
Many Uses of Hanji
With its fine texture and smooth
surface, hanji has been popular among scholars and painters
for centuries. Hanji was also used for official government
records due to its remarkable durability. The earliest
example of mobile type printing in the world, the Pulcho
Chickchi Shimch’e Yojol, printed in 1377 can be
admired at the French National Library in Paris.
countries have used paper in such a diverse way as Koreans.
Hanji is or was used in making handicrafts, ropes, shrouds,
and everywhere in the house as coverings on doors, windows,
and floors. Hanji really was an integral part of Koreans’
People (한지와 사람들)
There are hundreds and hundreds of
hanji articles for sale in Seoul. While any one of them
would surely make a great souvenir or present, what
about making your own hanji object? This is what the
shop "Hanji People (한지와 사람들)" offers
located in the Insadong traditional area, a tempting
proposition, isn’t it?
This charming little
boutique, located on the second floor of the Dong-il
(동일) building on Insa-dong’s main street, offers
hanji handicraft-making courses for everyone from beginners
to experts. So how does it work? It’s simple! Choose
the object you wish to make from the boutique’s catalogue
according to your taste, the time you wish to spend
on it, and your budget and voilà! All that’s
left to do is to roll up your sleeves and begin but
don’t fret, you’ll be assisted by an experienced hanji
experts, the joyful Kim In-Suk or one of the regular
workers at the workshop.
boutique is divided into two parts: one is the actual
shop where you’ll find the superb works of the talented
Kim In-Suk and the other is the workshop area.
you have a few hours to spare I warmly recommend you
go try your hand at making your own hanji piece. Seeing
your own object slowly take life to finally take it
home is a particularly nice feeling indeed. Moreover,
the ambience is very relaxed and even though Mrs. Kim
doesn’t speak english, there will always be someone
to help you and advise you.
Hanji people proposes
an original and refreshing experience that we highly
recommend during your next visit to Insa-dong !
Link to the Insa-dong Art Street
Link to the Traditional Culture Hands-on Programs
Further Detailed Information ]
there : The shop is located on the main
street of Insadong, the traditional district,
close to the front of the Starbucks Coffee
Shop (스타벅스 커피), on the second floor
of the Dong-il (동일) building. Keep an
eye open for the sign that says "한지와
사람들 (Hanji People)".
is accessible by using subway line No.3
(orange), Anguk station.
Hours : 10:00 – 18:00 from Monday to
: 2F Dongil B/D, #170 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu,
Tel : +82-2-725-9979
Written by Mathieu Deprez