Gangjin set to celebrate its deep roots in celadon

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Gangjin set to celebrate its deep roots in celadon


Visitors check out some installation artwork at the venue of the upcoming Gangjin Celadon Festival. [JoongAng Ilbo]

As the clock struck 11:30 a.m. Monday, a cargo vessel carrying several hundred celadon articles set sail from Maryang Port in Gangjin County, South Jeolla, as part of a six-day trip along the Korean Peninsula’s west coast.

The journey is part of a re-enactment of an ancient tradition from Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), when vessels used to travel the waterway to deliver the era’s treasured articles. It comes on the heels of the historic discovery in 2007 of a shipwreck near Daeseom Island in Taean County, South Chungcheong. An excavation, conducted by the National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage, unearthed a 900-year-old ship packed with thousands of celadon bowls, dishes and other articles in addition to goods used by the crew and a skeleton of a Goryeo man who was trapped under the cargo.

The vessel that set sail on Monday, dubbed “Onnubi,” is a replica of that ship. Its journey will take it to Oepo Port, more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles ) to the north, and then back to Maryang Port this Saturday to coincide with the start of the 37th Gangjin Celadon Festival, one of the area’s most prestigious events.

Gangjin County was once a hotbed for premium celadon - the first kind of porcelain developed by Koreans - in large part because of its rich soil and accessible waterways. It revels in that history even today. County officials eagerly promote their homemade celadon to the world, hosting exhibitions in Europe last spring and launching the re-enactment this week to kick off the upcoming festival.

“Gangjin’s centuries-old celadon culture is something that every Gangjin man prides himself in,” said Lee Sam-hyeon, head of the festival’s organizing committee.

During the weeklong festival, visitors will be able to appreciate Gangjin celadon on its native soil. As part of the event, organizers are setting up 1,000 celadon bells and numerous celadon lanterns that will light up the night during the festival.

“Unlike other regional festivals, where it’s mostly about eating and partying, we hope this festival will offer a chance to really appreciate the beauty and depth of our history and heritage,” said Hwang Su-hong, the county head.

The festival will include exhibits, a parade and auctions offering celadon pieces at a 20 percent discount. You can check out the auction pieces in advance at Organizers say they expect more than 700,000 people to attend this year’s festival.

By Lee Hai-suk []

The Gangjin Celadon Festival runs from this Saturday to Aug. 16 in venues in Daegu-myeon, Gangjin County, South Jeolla. For more information, visit

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