Sunday, May 26, 2013


                     Several different kinds of calligraphy in Hanja (Chinese characters)

I've been living in the same neighborhood now for four years.  I live in Oncheonjang.  Ocheon means "hot spring" and jang means "flatland or area".  My neighborhood is famous for bathhouses, mountain hiking, and the multitude of love motels that pepper the area.  People here in Korea live with their parents until they get married, so if you want to get down, a love motel is your only option.  I love my neighborhood, and it's the only place I would want to live here in Busan.

Anyway, there's a little shop I've been wanting to go in for a long time now.  I've probably passed it at least a hundred times over the years.  I finally stopped by this weekend, and it turns out that it is actually a little school that teaches calligraphy.  The school has been there for thirty years, and the owner has been studying and practicing calligraphy for fifty years.

The owner was really nice.  He and one of his students talked to my wife and I for awhile about calligraphy, and they did some demonstrations for us.  They were even nice enough to give us one of the pieces they made.  I am going to go back soon to buy one of his pieces. 





I talked about Hanja and the development of Hangul in one of my previous posts:

                                           Soil in Hanja

Korea used Hanja before Hangul (Korean) was created.  During that time, being an elite member of Korean society meant you had to be literate in Chinese.  Even after Hangul was created, the upper echelon of the country opposed its use, because the Confucian elite wanted to keep government exams as hard as possible (Hangul is very easy to learn to read and write).   The privileged few wanted only aristocratic, wealthy children to be able to pass the exams and Hangul was actually banned shortly after its invention.  The effects of this were dramatic and long standing.  South Korea used a Sino-Korean script requiring the mastery of thousands of Chinese characters until the 1990's. 

Another thing I love about my neighborhood is that fact that I can walk about ten minutes and be in the mountains!  And this is in the second largest city in Korea.  I spent the later half of the day relaxing and enjoying some fresh mountain air.

    Hangul and Hanja

1 comment:

  1. That is very cool. I would definitely learn that if one was near me. Actually, there may be a plcae. I'll have to ask around. What a great idea!