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An Old and Beautiful Tradition

anji is traditional hand-made paper created by processing the bark of mulberry bushes. Before modern times hanji was the only paper used in Korea and was known as "living paper" because of its close relation to nature. Jang Yong-hoon (68), is listed as an intangible cultural asset as he has been making hanji since he was 19. When listening to him talk it is easy to understand the history of hanji. The first paper ever to be made was in 2BC, China, and though it is not known when paper making methods were transmitted to Korea, it is believed to be before 4BC. The specialness of hanji is that it is only made of natural materials. Unlike western paper, which uses chemicals, hanji is made using water strained through burned buckwheat or rice straw and is neutral paper. Jang says that hanji is thin but strong as it has long clear fibers.

Hanji has many uses, but was mostly used for passing down records, followed by decoration on doors, walls and floors of Korean traditional houses as interior decorating paper. Also hanji was the only material that could control light adequately. Hanji was also used in religious ceremonies as in Korea, culture was strongly influenced by these formal events and hanji was used to record them. White was used for its meaning of cleanness and purity. Hanji was also used for money and art to name only a few.

Hanji has been essential in Korean's living, but since the popularization of western paper its use has been decreasing. Request for machine paper, which can be made in less time, has been increasing. Hanji factories with decreases in requests became hard to find since the 1970s. Jang has been frustrated a few times by economic problems from the decrease in demand, but hasn't given up making hanji. He first started making hanji because it was his father's job but now he feels that he needs to protect it. His aim is to make the best hanji. Now even his son Jang Yong-woong wishes to keep the family business going. Jang works in a hanji workroom named 'Jangjibang' in Gapyong, Kyonggido. Here he makes various kinds of hanji and exports it overseas.
(Tel) 031-581-0457

How to Make Hanji

Get a year old mulberry between November and February.
Steam the mulberry overnight.
Peel the bark of mulberry.
Dry the peeled bark.
Soak the bark in water then peel the outer skin of the bark.
Dry the bark again.
Soak the Bark in clear and cold water.
Put the bark in a pot with lye made from burning straw. Wash off the lye.
Pound the bark with a stick then put in water.
Make a square shape and dry.

(Sourced from WHAT'S ON SEOUL)

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