Peter Corbishley digests the discussion on Korean crafts at the KCC on 2 Dec
Korean porcelain, jewellery, religious artefacts and patchwork is distinguished by inlay using different materials. While inlay techniques might be a common feature of Korean crafts, however, they are not uniquely Korean. The techniques of jewellery making, for example, may well not be unique considering for example granulation on pendants or earrings where the same techniques are found much earlier in Greek or middle eastern culture.
However the skills and attention to detail in the use of inlay in Korea through the centuries whether with mother of pearl, tortoiseshell, amber, white slip, black slip, black oxide, red pointer, bronze, copper, silver, gold on lacquer, silver, bronze or porcelain are unique and distinctive.
The quality is surprising given the seemingly low status of craftspeople in the traditional Korean society of the Chosun period. A member of the audience suggested that the skills of these crafts might not be being passed on now in South Korea, but the technical specialisation found in the construction of Korean mobile phones for example, (the inlay on computer chips?) may well be in continuity with the attention to detail found in Korean inlay.
All this, with some reflections on the influence of Korean inlay among her artistic friends whether Korean or not, was displayed and claimed by Pak Youngsook at the Korean Cultural Centre on Tuesday 2nd December 2008 as she weaved her own red pointer inlay across a power point presentation in an over darkened room which could too easily be conducive to nodding off.