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To see the soul of Korea, look to its pottery


Whether you¡¯re a resident of Busan or just visiting, you owe it to yourself to experience Korean pottery.

An ancient, beloved tradition springs to life

In ancient Asia, Korea was a center of innovation in pottery and ceramics. Many of those traditions continue to the present day, and the treasured artisans trained in them are more than willing to share their expertise with interested visitors.

 Of course today Korea is full of mass-produced tableware, but old-fashioned pots have an organic feeling to them, a connection between artisan and final owner. They even seem to absorb the spirit of the food they are used to cook. Classically produced ceramics also retain the artistic idiosyncrasies of the artist who produced them. Here Busan presents remnants of Korea¡¯s ancient potters¡¯ culture that offer certified authentic cultural experience programs. The city also provides explanations and reservation services for these programs.       

¡á Janganyo

Along National Highway No. 14 to Ulsan from Busan, a side road leads to Jangan Temple. Along it sits a small town called Hajangan. This village is home to the the traditional pottery cluster known as Janganyo, which makes ceramics in a traditional wood-fired kiln.

Here, potters live and breath pottery and ceramics, refusing even electricity.

The most powerful personality at Janganyo is the wood potter Shin Gyeong-gyun, who has used this place as his home and studio since the fires were lit in 1993, leaving his artistic kiln in Goheung, South Jeolla. Despite his long career, he says that even now he¡¯s just had a small taste of the power of clay.

Lim Gye-hwa, Shin¡¯s wife and an expert in traditional cuisine, is in charge of the pottery program. When Mr. Shin finishes a piece, Ms. Lim cooks up a fantastic dish to make the  most of it.

Janganyo is also famous for the many famous celebrities from overseas who have participated in the program. The spouses of delegates to the 2005 APEC Summit visited Janganyo to experience traditional pottery, and the International Sailing Federation and Catholic Health Association also visited the site. There are two programs, one for high-quality traditional Korean pottery and another, less intense one for an enjoyable introduction to the tradition. Make reservations three to four days before you go.

¢¹Admission : 30,000 won ($26)

¢¹Information : 051-727-8216

¡á Gijang Pottery Village

A three-story building rises out of one end of Imrang Beach. This is the center of the Gijang Pottery Village, which runs various pottery experience programs that help people of all ages understand the joy and beauty of Korean traditional pottery.

The first floor is the pottery experience area, where guests to make ceramics. There is a mud gas kiln and a pottery wheel to mold the clay.

On the second floor is an exhibition hall and a pottery shop, full of beautiful pieces by local artists. The third floor is home to a traditional tea room.

The Gijang Pottery Village was the host of the APEC Pottery Exhibition back in 2005, and its tour program prepared for the spouses of the summit delegates was a huge hit.

¢¹Admission : 13,000 won to 15,000 won (children 8,000 won to 10,000 won)

¢¹Information : 051-727-0161

¡á Sugeolyo

This pottery center located near Jangjeon Middle School and the Geumgang Park Botanic Garden works to combine Korean traditions and modern art, and focuses on vases for wildflowers. Jeon Su-geol, the owner of Sugeolyo, received the grand prize in the crafts division of a Busan Fine Arts Association contest with the work titled ¡°Ddeoksalmun¡± back in 2005.

¢¹Admission : 20,000 won

¢¹Information : 051-583-1990

¡á Soreumyo 

Soreumyo is located in Jukseong Village, Gijang County, on a hill near Hwanghakdae, where the famous poet and government official Yoon Seon-do was exiled, and Guksudang, where national ancestral rites were performed.

Also nearby is the Waeseong fortress built to be besieged Japanese forces after their invasion in the 16th century. Soreumyo is perfectly located for urban dwellers who simply don¡¯t have the time to head out for the countryside but still crave the chance to mold some pottery.

¢¹Admission : 15,000 won (elementary students 6,000 won, middle school students 7,000 won, foreigners 20,000 won)

¢¹Information : 051-722-0018

¡á Sanseong Pottery

Sanseong Pottery is a professional pottery gallery in Geumseong-dong, Geumjeong District, which also uses a traditional wood-fired kiln.

Cute statues and ceramics give viewers a warm feeling.

The fresh air and tasty teas provide a luxurious step away from the busy everyday life of the city.

¢¹Admission : 15,000 won

¢¹Information : 051-517-8376

Tips > What does ¡° Yo¡± mean?

¡°Yo,¡± which consists of a furnace and a chimney, is used for making charcoal, earthenware and roof tiles. Numerous kiln spots  have been found in Gijang County, tracing the area¡¯s past as a center for ceramics and pottery.  


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