Translator: Sora Kim-Russell (for English Ed.)
- A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty (Korean Ed.)
- A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty (English Ed.)
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|>>>This set includes both English and Korean editions.|
About This Book
Unfledged Yet Earnest
Record of a Journey in Search of Korea's Culture
A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty was a yearlong project that Bae Yong Joon undertook in order to learn more about traditional Korean culture from the unfledged yet earnest point of view of one Korean, and to record in a down-to-earth way what he learned and felt in the process. He chose 13 subjects he has been interested in out of the traditional Korean culture and folded into six categories. This book is intended not only for foreign readers who would like to learn more about traditional Korean culture but do not have easy access to it, but also for Korean readers as well who are in search of this country's beauty.
In this chapter, the author introduces Koreans' staple food, including bap and kimchi, and emphasizes the beauty of hanbok, the traditional clothing, often quoted as beautiful lining. Not only that, he focuses on colors of the hanbok and guides the readers to the world of natural dyeing he has experienced.
When it comes to traditional culture, preserving it in its original form is important, but so too is using it in our daily lives. For that to happen, it has to become a toy?something that we use often and with pleasure. As Confucius wrote in The Analects, “Knowing something is not as good as taking pleasure in something.� In other words, rather than simply studying something, you should make it a part of your life and enjoy it daily. I think that even more than preserving, understanding and liking culture, we should first have fun with it. (p. 50)
Along with 10,000 year lasting lacquer craft and 1,000 year lasting hanji (the Korean traditional paper), we learn about traditional pottery making and about Buddhism that holds crucial part of Korean history. The writer meets artisans and monks to seek craftsmanship and courtesy that handed down through ages.
This is the first time I have ever tried writing a book. I have had my hand in every part of it, from preliminary research, field trips and photo shoots, to organizing the materials, preparing the manuscript and selecting the final photos. This project, with its tiny crew, feels completely different from the enormous production of a movie or television show. We pull over to take pictures wherever we feel like it, sleep crowded together in one room and help each other in the kitchen. We have become so close that we can tell what the other person wants just by the look in his eye, even with the staff members we hardly knew before the trip. And for every little bump along the road, there have been just as many beautiful moments. To travel truly is to take a journey?of getting to know yourself, of getting to know each other. (p. 114)
I hope Korea will become more widely recognized as a country with lots of healthy food. Because it is true. When we were little, we were told all the time by our mothers and grandmothers, “Eat it. It's good for you.� Korean food is medicine. If someone were to ask me, “What do you think is Korean food's competitive edge?� I would say, “It brings us closer to nature.� If we could create an image of Korea as a place where good ingredients and good food, healthful ingredients and healthful food, can be found anywhere, not only would our own lives improve, but more people from other countries would want to visit Korea to experience and learn about it for themselves. (p. 199)
- Letting Go
On an empty site, once enjoyed great honor of the great Kingdom, we reconsider past and present and make plans for future.
To see an ancient city is to be moved by its quiet beauty. There, one can escape the stress of the modern city with its sharp edges and enjoy the relaxed, peaceful pace of an older time. Cities are known for their enormous, splendid buildings that give free reign to ambition. But they can seem oppressive to those who live there. I think people become the center of attention only in a simple, restrained space. (p. 234)
I stood in the desolate field where all that remained was Hwangnyongsa's foundation stones and was gripped by a sense of awe. The realization sunk in of the terrifying potential of human beings who cling all the more tenaciously the more barren things become. Perhaps technology in those days was better than we think, but I was still amazed by the willpower of those good men who fought to overcome so much adversity and uncertainty. (p. 240)
King Sejong the Great hoped for all the people to be able to read and write. We recollect dreaming King's invention, hanguel, and tangible assets from National Museum of Korea.
After the Korean War, people must have dreamed of a quick escape from suffering. Then in the 1970s, people must have dreamed of becoming affluent through economic development. Did they succeed? Or do we still carry those dreams deep inside of us because they have not yet been made real? If the needs and sufferings of the past made us who we are today, then I wonder which of today's needs and sufferings will make us who we will be tomorrow. Isn't that what we are supposed to find out? Culture is a dream that we dream together. If you know a person's dream, you can know the person. When I consider what we have been hoping for historically, I think it must be a shortcut to knowing our culture. Like something King Sejong the Great once said, if those of us who are to become a page in history keep dreaming and working to achieve our dreams, then the work we do now will be embraced and treasured by future generations. (p. 276)
Whenever a problem arises, the wisest thing to do is to try to go back to the beginning. When a relationship goes awry, think back to the first time you met. When something you are doing goes wrong, think about why you started doing that thing in the first place. I believe the answer to our uncertain futures can be found back at the starting point, i.e. in history. The past is the key to the future, and that key is kept safe inside museums. I think the ideas that are the source of creation are all found in museums. When we have to design something or come up with practical ideas for daily life, we should start by visiting a museum. Perhaps there we can discover new images, designs and ideas that would not have occurred to us otherwise. A museum is a teacher that stands in the same spot for a long time. When we gaze upon objects that show us the plain truth of the past, as if transporting us there by time machine, we can learn about the forgotten roots of culture. To know your roots, to return to the starting point, does not mean staying in the past but rather searching for a new future. (p. 319)
Compared to world famous wine, Korea's traditional wine takes no lower position. We take a look at traditional liquor and hanok, the traditional Korean housing which is built based upon human engineering.
During today's drunken conversation, I learned anew how delicious, stylish and scientific traditional Korean alcohol can be, and I was amazed at its potential. The steps we can take to help preserve and develop traditional home brewing are quite simple: we can stop the extinction of traditional home-brewed alcohol by sharing and appreciating this precious cultural heritage with more people. I look forward to the day when hundreds of long-lost home-brewed alcohols will have been recovered and restored to their rightful place, filling everyone's porcelain wine cups and intoxicating them with their aroma. When that happens, I hope the rhythm and melody of tradition will be heard together, and that smiles will spread across the faces of many good people (p. 347)
In the future, I will build a hanok and fil l the rooms with my dreams and entertain my friends there. I would like the bedroom to be small and simple. My parents will live in the main room, where I will build a cabinet in the back wall on the warm side of the room so they can store snacks for their grandchildren. Instead of a separate library, I will make a space where everyone can sit together and look at books. I also want to include a tearoom and a workroom. I want it to be a space not just for me alone but a space where everyone who is like family to me can come together. The tearoom would be small enough for five or six people to sit with their knees touching, close enough to feel each other's breath. Because if the space is too big, someone might feel left out. I want to fill my house with stories that make everyone, without exception, feel loved. (p. 369)
- Leaving, Once Again
The last chapter contains beautiful photographs taken by Bae Yong Joon during his journey.
I wish I could fly. But I do not wish to wander aimlessly. Sometimes I long to rest. Now travel is both a beating of wings and a rest. Because I have experienced a true journey, and the beauty will live in my memory forever. (p. 391)
Lee O-Young, Korea's first Minister of Culture | Park Dong-chun, Research Institute of East Asian Tea Culture | Choe Kwang-shik, National Museum of Korea
The Journey Begins
01 Home Cooking | 02 Kimchi | 03 Hanbok and Housekeeping
04 Black Lacquer | 05 Temple Stay | 06 Tea | 07 Pottery
08 Hwangnyongsa and Mireuksa Temple sites
09 Hangeul and King Sejong the Great | 10 Gyeongbokgung Palace and an Ancient Map of the Sky | 11 National Museum of Korea
12 Wine and Song | 13 Hanok
Leaving, Once Again
Letters from the Road
Jeon Yong-bok, Iwayama Lacquer Art Museum | Venerable Jeongnim, Gilsangsa Temple |
Lee Hyo-jae, Hanbok ddesigner
The Journey Ends
Routes & Maps
Seoul | North Gyeongsang-do Province |
Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do Provinces | South Jeolla-do Province
About the Author: Bae Yong Joon
Bae Yong Joon is one of East Asia's foremost actors and an ardent supporter of intercultural communication and exchange. For Bae Yong Joon, staying in conversation with our past is important for the future of humanity, and this book is a creative and heartwarming record of what he has gained from that conversation.
Bae Yong Joon made his acting debut in 1994 on the KBS television series, Salut D'Amour (Love Greeting), and rose to stardom with his role in the 1995 series, A Sunny Place of the Young. Having established his acting career through a number of movies and television shows, Bae Yong Joon became an international megastar with his role as Jun-sang on the 2002 series Winter Sonata.
Value of Traditional Culture
Although Korean traditional culture is a world-recognized unique and scientific heritage, we often take it for granted just because it's around us in our everyday routine. That might be the reason we can't clearly introduce what it's like to foreigners when we're asked to do so. Bae Yong Joon also was in that position and came up with the idea of necessity to look further inside ultimate beauty of Korea.
To know something also means to know that some things are unknown. Never forgetting that some things are unknown or unknowable seems to be good for us. It makes us humble and pure. And it makes us try harder. It fills us with the desire to learn. Too much and we are made fools, too little and we are made arrogant. But in the right amount, the unknown can be good for us. (p. 280)
Travelling helps us to become more mature beings. People get to know themselves better and figure out new things on the way. Especially, an attempt looking for origin gives us the chance to value the true beauty in itself. This journey for traditional culture supports to find real beauty of Korea. It fills in our sprit and empties our mind from abundance at the same time so we can stand on the firm ground as a whole. Every step Bae Yong Joon took to the past resembles Korean culture which implies rustic simplicity and exquisite taste. This book concentrated more to spiritual heritage than tangible assets. It is remarkable that Bae Yong Joon actually tried to make kimchi and had a meal at a temple to show how the process worked out.
Beauty of Daily Surroundings
Bae Yong Joon reified his wish to reconnect cultural beauty of past and present through this book. A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty vividly delivers photographs he took himself that show his accurate observation and fertile imagination. He devoted himself to every single step of the whole process with sincerity. In this book, you will see how different he seems at the end of his journey. It also includes routes he traveled, in his wish to share the experience and to promote cultural visits.
The very advantage of this book is that it contains whole process of certain parts of our heritage which cannot easily get attention nor be experienced around us. Bae Yong Joon put it on record for us to develop empathy with real beauty of cultural heritage and to preserve tradition. Thanks to his enthusiasm, we can indirectly experience the genuine beauty of Korea without actually having participated in the process.
Good books let readers follow and agree to the writer while reading. They also should linger in readers' minds and encourage them to move forward after reading. Page after page, I was amazed how shallow my knowledge about Korea was and I definitely wanted to pack and leave for a cup of Donjeongchun right at the moment. But if you're in Korea, take a good look around you before you leave and you'll find something right there as well. I have learned that fact from A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty.
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