The Beginning of K-Culture

This exhibition titled 《The Beginning of K-Culture》 introduces various facets of Korean culture that have been attracting global attention. The letter “K” contains the meaning of Korean daily life and folk tradition which has been passed down from the past.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the world looked at Korea with curious eyes. Koreans living in “The Land of Morning Calm” were carrying their everyday burdens on A-frame carriers, and cultivating fields with hand plows. They blended in with nature by wearing white clothes. They got the lively energy from the time of being together.
In the 21st century, the eyes of the world are on Korea once again. The world felt daily life of Koreans unfamiliar a hundred years ago, but now, K-Culture has become familiar in today’s international community. In spite of spotlighting on Korean life, Koreans live a normal life. They may spend the day doing different things, but they are fascinated by the same cultural background and enjoy being together.

K-: The Prefix Embracing Tradition and Modernity

Anything named with the modifier “Korean” reflects the wisdom and spirit of Korean tradition. Today, the steady efforts at applying and experimenting with traditional elements have become a foundation for creating a different kind of tradition.
Adding the prefix “K-” to these experiments is regarded by Koreans as a new Korean heritage.

Being Useful

People like to constantly rework the outer appearance of objects. However, the essential functions of many objects have remained essentially the same from the moment they were introduced until now.
What kinds of objects have been used in daily life in Korea? Among many others, there are jige (A-frame carriers), homi (hand plows), onggi (earthenware pots) and hanji (Korean paper). Jige allows Koreans to shoulder the loads required in their daily lives. Homi is used to cultivate the land and bring it back to life. Onggi are the base of Korean food. Hanji has been used in various areas, from living space for rest to household items.
All of Korean items are indispensable.

Being Natural

Nature has long provided a home and inspired dreams of utopia for Koreans. Koreans’ effort to resemble nature has inspired their aesthetics.
Living spaces were decorated with objects inspired by nature. Koreans wearing white clothing made of natural materials came to resemble white clouds resting on the ground. They also imagined endless beauty while crafting gently curved white porcelain pieces. Colors from nature that changed with the passing of the seasons infused their everyday experiences in many ways.
The everyday lives of Koreans reflect their efforts to live in harmony with nature.

Being Together

Koreans live everyday life together with a variety of people. They exchange greetings by saying “Have you eaten?", share interests through song lyrics, cheer in unison, and share food at pojangmacha (street stalls). These actions, both in the past and present, are ordinary, yet they connect people. The accumulation of their everyday acts has led to the creation of "K-culture," which has inspired the world today.

The K-Zone

When Koreans' daily lives are seen through the eyes of others and related by their words, new versions of Koreans are discovered. “K” is today’s accumulation of all the Koreans have experienced so far. What does the future hold for the “K”? The K-Zone allows visitors to explore the Korean culture and encourages them to imagine what it will be like in the future.