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Exhibition traces development of metal craft in Korea


A photo of father and son Jogakjang masters, Kim Jeong-seop and Kim Cheol-ju (CHA)

A photo of father and son Jogakjang masters, Kim Jeong-seop and Kim Cheol-ju (CHA)

An exhibition exploring the work of the last jogakjang of the Joseon era is underway at the National Intangible Heritage Center in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.

Jogakjang are artisans who decorate metal surfaces with designs created through hammering or engraving. Metalcraft was an important part of traditional craftwork, as evidenced by a record of the profession in Gyeonggukdaejeon, a book covering the laws from the late Goryeo to the early Joseon era.

The fifth in the annual series of exhibitions highlighting the country’s cultural heritage, “Engraving a Legacy with Chisels” centers around the late Kim Jeong-seop (1899-1988), the first jogakjang master designated in 1970.

Kim was also the last surviving jogakjang artisan to have worked at the craft workshop of the Yiwangjik, the Office of Yi Royal Family, during the Japanese colonial period.

After the national liberation, Kim trained young artisans, including his son, the late Kim Cheol-ju (1933-2015). 

Hammers, chisels, polishing plates and other tools of the two master craftsmen, Kim Jeong-seop and Kim Cheol-ju are on display at the exhibition “Engraving a Legacy with Chisels,” running at the National Intangible Heritage Center, located in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.(CHA)

Hammers, chisels, polishing plates and other tools of the two master craftsmen, Kim Jeong-seop and Kim Cheol-ju are on display at the exhibition “Engraving a Legacy with Chisels,” running at the National Intangible Heritage Center, located in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.(CHA)

The father and son worked to spread traditional metal engraving techniques that were on the brink of disappearing. Making bold innovations such as using tinted aluminum sheets rather than expensive silver, their remarkable skill and artistry have been recognized throughout the country.

More than 50 pieces from the two masters are on display at the exhibition, as well as their workspaces which come complete with their tools.

The exhibition runs until Aug. 21. Admission is free. The center is closed on Mondays.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)





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