London Korean Links

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Ceramic Exhibition: Onggi Hangari, at Project Ability, Glasgow

A meaningful exhibition by an adoptee:

Onggi Hangari

3 October – 16 November 2019
Project Ability | 103 Trongate | Glasgow G1 5HD |
Reception 3 October, 6 – 8pm | Tea ceremony 4 October, 1 – 2pm
Gallery hours Tuesday-Saturday 10am – 5pm

Korean Style Pottery by Korean Overseas Adoptee Yoonet (Christina Soo ja Massey)

Onggi Hangari

Food for Thoughts…

In preparation for the upcoming exhibition titled “Onggi Hangari ” these are some thoughts I wish to share with all who are interested or even confirmed a definite intention to come to upcoming Exhibition.

The title of the exhibition serves two purposes.

First the obvious, raising the interest in Korea, Korean Pottery (Potters) and Food Culture.

Second the more underlying reason, raising awareness on Korean Overseas Adoptees and issues of Identity and Belonging.

For those who do not know about Korea, Korean Pottery, Kimchi and Korean Overseas Adoption, the chosen title may not mean anything.

Assuming a lack of knowledge in mentioned areas, some information and some personal experiences to fill you in.

Onggi is the term for Korean Tableware Ceramics and Hangari refers to a “bellied” and medium-sized vessel made from Earthenware to store and/or ferment food, such as Kimchi, Chilli Paste or Rice.

Having met other Korean Overseas Adoptees we seem to have some kind of a preoccupation more or less with food. Meeting other Koreans, albeit not Adoptees, it soon became apparent: they too have a predisposition for food. A Korean friend once told me, one way to ask “How are You?” is by asking “have you eaten rice (yet)?” (bap meogeosseoyo).

Maybe Koreans are obsessed with food… who knows?

I know I was and am still obsessed with food. I was an orphan from a very early age without stability and deprived of basic needs. I kept rice in my pockets as a child. Food and/or having (good) enough food becomes a major focus point, when deprived of basic needs, nutrition, love and protection/shelter.

Kimchi refers to food that has been fermented and is served as a side dish, but is seen as staple diet such as rice to each Korean traditional meal. The most common form of Kimchi is Chinese cabbage fermented with salt, garlic, and seafood (sauce) and other ingredients. The details can often be the maker’s well kept secret. I found not many people are indifferent to its taste… many love or hate it.

When I started to throw pots on, or should I say off the Wheel! I started to take more interest in the history of Korean Potters. From a book I read in my childhood, I remembered, that Japanese people had kidnapped Potters for their skills and expertise. Reading more about the history of Korean Potters, it became clear to me there were some similarities with Korean Overseas Adoptees and pre 1960s Korean Potters and Kimchi. We seem to be unwanted or outcast. Also we only recently came to the attention to the rest of the World.

In light of gathered knowledge and personal experiences, I have set out to prepare an exhibition that hopefully shines a spotlight on the issue of being or made to feel unwanted and outcast, and the Impact this has on one’s Identity and the Identity of a group and the whole of a society.

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