Jeolla: Jeonju Hanji Museum



Words and shots by Barun Sarkar

While some museums in Korea seem content to simply place dusty artifacts atop pedestals with poorly translated information boards, Jeonju Hanji Museum has caught up to the 21st century, with multimedia and visitor interaction at the top of their list of priorities.

A favorite of souvenir seekers, hanji is traditional Korean paper handmade from the bark of a native Korean tree, the Paper Mulberry. Start off your tour with the Hanji History Hall, which houses a number of artifacts alongside info boards with impressively perfect English translations. A mini-atrium showcases paper from ancient civilizations, from the pattra of India’s Indus Valley to the papyrus of Egypt. The area transforms into a light and sound
show for group tours, though available only in Korean at this time.

What makes the information boards captivating is the idea that paper, traditionally known as a substance so fragile that it cannot stand up to wind, water, heat nor pressure, has been transformed in hanji into a strong and versatile product. Applications for hanji include footwear, fashion runway dresses, speakers and even military helmets.

The Hanji Future Hall presents a sophisticatedly eye-catching display of both modern and futuristic uses of hanji. Multiple flat screens present artsy animations and real-life footage of hanji preparation and practical applications. Hit up the interactive touchscreens to discover more about hanji.

Wander on to the greenhouse, a lush and steamy hall housing live plants from which hanji is made, and then into the Planning Exhibition Hall, which changes its displays four to five times a year. For the climax of your adventure, get hands-on at the Hanji Reproduction Hall, where you can not only watch hanji being made in person, but also try making it yourself with the help of a hanji master. Just like the museum admission, this experience is totally free of charge.

Just as you think it’s all over, you’ll reach the small but diverse gift shop, which we recommend for gift-shoppers and penny-pinchers alike. The shop boasts plenty of hanji crafts, toys, notebooks, constructible models, baby clothes and more at prices even Ebenezer Scrooge would approve of.

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