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[Eye Plus] Stories carved out of wood

April 22, 2023 - 16:01 By Lim Jae-seong

“I am working on ‘eopgyeongdae.' Buddhist myths say that every person faces this mirror after death, before they are brought to the King of Hell,” said Kwon Da-eun, a student at the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage majoring in traditional arts and crafts.

“When a deceased person confesses the wrongdoings committed during his or her life, the mirror shows how the person lived. This story is what inspired me to carve the eopgyeongdae,” she added.

Wood can change and shift infinitely to express any story, she says, explaining what brought her to study traditional carving.

“Both anticipation of the result and fear of possible failure stirs inside me when I start carving the wood. However, watching it gradually take shape gives me great joy,” Kwon said.

As a student, Kwon hopes to become certified as a national intangible cultural heritage, which is given to artisans who achieve a certain level of skills in making traditional crafts or traditional performing arts.

“I hope to create a link between our ancestors and the contemporary public by learning what (our ancestors) developed and recreating it,” Kwon said, adding that the act of recreation would also deliver the stories of our ancestors to the modern population.

“I try not to miss out on any chance to see various historical artifacts. Those experiences will lead to my own creations, in which the traditional features and characteristics are embedded,” she said.

Photos by Im Se-jun

Written by Im Se-jun, Lim Jae-seong

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