Friends travel to South Korea

From 11 to 22 May 2016 by Jacqueline Berthelot-Blanchet.

As part of the celebration of the France-Korea crossed years, the choice of our association's annual trip naturally fell to South Korea.

Long closed to any opening, bruised by a war that pitted it against its enemy northern brother, from 1950 to 1953, the Land of the Morning Calm now plays in the court of world powers. This dazzling foray into the modern world did not distract him from a cultural heritage over which he jealously watches over. This is evidenced by the program of a trip giving way to ancient culture and popular traditions, but also to contemporary expressions of the country.
This dualism can be observed when approaching large cities. Seoul and Busan, with their building bars and their hectic activity are thus opposed to the serenity and aesthetics emanating from the countryside where a few villages of hanok, houses of letters and Confucian schools - erected in the 13th century in response to a Buddhism that has become too powerful - offer a mirror of the habitat of yesteryear.

Monastery of Tongdosa

Tongdosa Monastery. © J. Berthelot-Blanchet

Seoul Museum

Seoul Museum. © J. Berthelot-Blanchet

Village of Yang Dong. Choson Dynasty

Village of Yang Dong. Joseon Dynasty. © J.Berthelot-Blanchet

Temples and monasteries are numerous to dot the landscape. Set in a setting of green mountains sometimes crossed by hiking trails and waterfalls worthy of a traditional painting, they have seen their location obey the rules of geomancy, a divinatory technique still in vogue today.
The architecture of these buildings reflects the great currents of thought and religious practices (Buddhism, Confucianism and shamanism) which have crossed the centuries. Built in wood, stone being reserved for military constructions and being used only exceptionally for their base, they have the particularity of being made up of a multitude of pavilions each responding to a well-defined function.
Visits to sites, national museums or foundations with archaeological pieces, modern and contemporary works (Hoam and Leum museums created by the Samgsung Foundation) have contributed to the approach of a culture which has known, despite tragic events, to retain its identity .

Haeinsa Temple (Location of Tripitaka Koreana

Haeinsa Temple (site of Tripitaka Koreana). © J. Berthelot-Blanchet

Cheomseongdae Observatory in Gyeongju

Cheomseongdae Observatory in Gyeongju. © J.Berthelot-Blanchet

Workshop of Ms. Bang Hai Ja

Workshop of Ms. Bang-Hai Ja. © J.Berthelot-Blanchet

Two contemporary artists' workshops were on the program: the Young-Eun museum shared between art museum and workshops, including that of Madame Bang Hai Ja, well known from the Cernuschi museum for having exhibited there recently, and the Lee Ungno museum, an artist whose museum has a large number of works.
In addition to the welcome reserved for visitors in these places, some highlights of the trip should be mentioned such as Kyongbok Palace in Seoul, characteristic of Korean architecture and Changdeok Palace with its secret garden, the Seoul Museum, unique in the world. world for the knowledge of Korean art with in particular the wonderful celadons of the Koryeo dynasty and the refined sobriety of the porcelains of the Joseon dynasty, the temple of Haein-sa (classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) for its Tripitaka Koreana preserved since the XNUMXth century thanks to an ingenious ventilation system combined with a modulation of temperature and humidity, the Seokguram cave for its white granite Buddha, a masterpiece of Buddhist art from the kingdom of Silla, Gwanchok Monastery, proud of Korea's oldest Buddha ...

In conclusion, an enriching trip in a friendly atmosphere, under the leadership of Maël Bellec, Curator at the museum, to whom we owe its development carried out in close collaboration with our association. May he be thanked!

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