"a move from your inner self"

Korean traditional painting in Hungary

Who of you have never been fascinated by a beautifully painted Korean landscape of the row of unique mountain peaks, or by an image of a  black-grey branch topped with jolly pink cherry blooms?   

The Korean painting tradition is more than pretty images. Through the diverse forms of this painting, we can experience the world of Koreans of ages past, both as it was and as they wished it to be. It is a magical trip into an exciting culture and world we adore and attracted by so much.  


Korean painting can be detected back to the 14th century and believed to develop from Chinese calligraphy and painting. Back in that times these two, calligraphy and painting, were walking along hand in hand, separation started only at a later stage.


What to paint?

Naturally enough, painting in Korea, like elsewhere, takes many forms and genres.

Korean landscape paintings – known as sansuhwa („painting of mounains and water”) –are perhaps the best known. While formalized, the manner in which artists expressed the landscapes revealed much about the artists themselves. 

 Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), dated 1447


Genre paintings, meanwhile, take a frank look at daily life of both nobles and commoners in Joseon-era Korea. One of the best known representative of the genre painting is Sin Yun-bok (18th c.) you can easily recall his very characteristic figures and situations he liked to chronicle. His uncommon life has even inspired the filming business and has been depicted both in a movie film and a TV drama. 

'Yaguemmohaeng', or, 'A Secret Trip At Night' (1758), by Shin Yun-bok

Then, of course, we can meet with the portrait painting, folk painting and temple (or Buddhist) painting as well.


With what to paint?

The essence both of calligraphy and painting is mungbansawu, a one-word unit of necessary stationary and tools, each with their very special purpose. The elements of mungbansawu are the brush (붓), the inkstone (벼루), the inkstick (먹 ) and hanji paper (화선지).  When it comes to painting, both hanji paper and silk can be used, the latter material needs very careful attendance. 



Did you know?    

1.       The brush is made of goat fine hair and it takes 150 manual processes to make a single brush.


2.       In general, inksticks are made with soot and animal glue, with other ingredients occasionally added as preservatives or for aesthetics:

·         Soot: soot is produced by anoxic burning of oils such as, soybean oil, tee seed oil, lard, or from special woods.

·         Animal glu: made of egg white, fish skin, ox hide glues are used to bind the inkstick together.  

·         Incense and medicines: To improve the physical aesthetics of the inkstick, incense and herb extracts were also used like: cloves, comfrey, sappanwood, white santalwood, etc. These ingredients may serve as preservatives for the inkstick.


The ingredients are mixed together in precise proportions into a dough and then kneaded until the dough is smooth. The dough is then cut and pressed into a mold and slowly dried. Today of course mostly ready-made ink is used but mainly in the countryside they practice the old traditional way of ink producing.  


 Dasom: "make only one move for one time"


AND.... here we are! Finally you may take the hanji in front of you and make your first move of painting as it shown by teacher KIM Dasom who leads the traditional painting classes a Korean Cultural Center, Budapest.  She has been living in Hungary for about a year. Before that she had been studying fine arts and graduated in staging and scenery arts in Seoul, South-Korea. 

practicing the one strike movement 



"You have to be in a calm state of mind . When you paint  'in Korean style', you should be concentrated, because it is not allowed to repeat your movement once again.  You must lead your brush with one strike, so treat it with care. What you've done, it has been done and it is always the mirror of your soul, your inner self.'

(Dasom KIM, teacher of Korean Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary)


            T h a n k   Y o u  D a s o m !!


: Érzéki Korea



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