Art & Architecture in Seoul
Focusing on elements that reflect both the essence of Korea’s past as well as modern influences and transformation, Korean architect Choi Wook will guide participants on a walking tour through specific areas of Seoul. The old city of Seoul is located north of the Han River, where residential districts surround the main palaces at the heart of the city’s original fortress, now long gone. We will visit the areas surrounding Kyongbok Palace such as Samcheongdong and Insadong where the old traditional houses in the alleys still retain their original shape and form although many have been retrofitted with modern amenities and aesthetics. Included in the program is a visit to the newly established Korean Furniture Museum which houses the most extensive traditional Korean furniture collection that is exhibited in a traditional structure built with much of its timber and materials recycled from demolished houses. We will also visit Kilsangsa temple, a city Buddhist temple with a modern organic Zen room built by a Zen monk.
South of the Han River is the newly developed part of the city with sprawling high rises and commercial buildings that have created a boom in Seoul’s real estate market since the 80’s. Districts such as Dosan Park and Apkujungdong evolve under commercial demands to showcase contemporary architecture and interiors. Along with its own signature collections, the unique Hermes House, the first art and boutique center in the world established by the Paris-based House of Hermes, features collections from contemporary Korean artists and designers. Horim Art Museum exhibits a range of artists, both contemporary and otherwise, in a new, modern structure.
The last decade has witnessed a giant leap in Korea’s contemporary art scene not only because of its own crop of new contemporary artists but also from its impact on the world stage of art sales and auctions in both volume and scope. Korea’s art market is soaring on the sales of native artists and world-renown artists. The highlight is a visit to the Leeum Museum that is designed in three parts by Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel and Mario Batta, housing an extensive collection of masterpieces, ranging from traditional and modern Korean art to international art. Included in the walking tour are some of the most prominent contemporary art galleries in Seoul, namely Seomi and Tuus, Hyundai Gallery, Gana Arts and Kukje Gallery.
Magoksa Temple and Gongju City
A respite from the excitement of the modern city of Seoul is the overnight stay at the ancient Buddhist temple, Magoksa, in Chungchungnamdo Province. First established in the 7th century, this serene temple has survived intact for centuries in the Taehwasan Mountain. As one of the main temples of the Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Magoksa recently built its modern Buddhist Cultural Center where temple stays and Buddhist education programs are held for the appreciation of Korean Zen Buddhist influences on Korean aesthetics. On the second day, a visit to the ancient capital of Baekje, Gongju City, will reveal some of the finest Baekje artifacts that reflect the glorious cultural heritage from this period, which have influenced modern Korean design and crafts.
Heyri Art Village and Paju Book City
A decade ago, a group of innovative and visionary artists, architects and city planners created an ideal community outside Seoul called Heyri Art Village in an area near the 38th Parallel. Their aim was to bring substance and symbolism to a long neglected area, thereby reviving the beauty of its natural surroundings, while freely experimenting with creative structural designs. Participants will spend a day walking through Heyri’s artist community that includes galleries, studios, a library and residential structures. A visit to Paju Book City, an ambitiously planned city full of cutting-edge contemporary architecture developed by some of the major publishing houses in Korea is also on the agenda.
Corrin Chan is a registered architect and a director of Axis of Spin Architecture, a practice that she founded in Hong Kong in 1998. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor Degree in Architecture and followed with a Master Degree in Architecture from Columbia University. Corrin worked in New York and Hawaii before returning to HK in 1992. She is the recipient of the Asian Cultural Council Grant and the Walter Gropius Medal.
Corrin has organized many architectural forums, exhibitions and competitions. She was the Chairlady of the “100-year Hong Kong Architecture”; Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Architecture Center. For the past few years, her interest in Korean Zen Buddhism led her to visit Korea regularly where she has witnessed much growth and changes.
Kathy Park is a design consultant and a practitioner of Zen Buddhist meditation. She has worked for Commes des Garcons, designed the housewares collection for Dosa Inc., and freelanced as a stylist and art director in London for World of Interiors, Elle Décor, Browns of London and the Cross. One of her vested interests is to develop traditional Korean crafts rooted with spiritual awareness from both tradition and modernity. In 2009, she collaborated with Pippa Small, a London-based jewelry designer-cum-anthropologist and a Survival International Ambassador, to incorporate Buddhist motifs and Korean Shilla Dynasty influences in modern jewelry handmade for the benefit of the charity, Lotus Outreach.
Currently, Kathy lives in Hong Kong, with her husband Andrzej Stec JDPSN, a Zen Buddhist teacher, at Su Bong Zen Monastery. A passionate practitioner of Zen Buddhism, she spends at least three months a year in meditation retreats and is involved in development projects for the Korean Zen community.