Monday, March 31, 2014

My Meaningful Hanji Trip to Seoul : Discoveries, Connections, and Projects!

Yesterday, I had the great joy and pleasure to go on a very special "business trip" to the Capital city of Korea : Seoul!

My day started with a visit to the crafty neighborhood of Insadong (인사동), where you can find many Hanji and calligraphy shops, as well as numerous tea shops, art galleries and antique shops.

A tiny Hanji shop in Insadong, Seoul.
I got my fill of gorgeous papers and art supplies, and I purchased quite a few sheets of unique Hanji paper.

I usually buy my Hanji paper in my favorite shop in Jeonju (Jeollabuk-do province). It was a nice change for me to visit some of Seoul's shops, to see what they have to offer! I quickly noticed that the price of each sheet is higher than in Jeonju (Insadong is a famous tourist attraction, so the prices are crafted with the tourists and foreign visitors in mind!) but I didn't mind paying a little more for some exquisitely different patterned and textured papers.

After lunch, I headed over to NamDaeMoon Market (남대문시장) to purchase some more supplies, along with wrapping and packaging material. I made a mandatory stop at Alpha, a massive 5-floor stationery and art supply paradise where you can find anything and everything for craft and paper lovers : art supplies, stationery, tools, office supplies, paper of all kinds, stickers, toys, etc.!

"Hanji, after Korea"

Afterwards I took the subway to Itaewon, the most cosmopolitan neighborhood in Seoul. At 4 in the afternoon, I had the great chance to meet some craft lovers in a tiny art space called "Jankura Art Space".

I attended a talk titled "Hanji, after Korea" given by Jan Coveney, a very talented and experienced Hanji artist who now lives and teaches Hanji crafts in the United Arab Emirats (U.A.E.). Jan and I had been in contact for the last year or so via blogs and social media sites, but it was the first time we actually met. She was visiting Korea with a few of her Hanji students and friends, and there was no way I would pass on the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with them !
Hanji paper is easily accessible in Korea, but can
be quite hard to find in other countries. 

In her lecture, Jan talked about the challenges that she encountered when she left Korea; she wanted to continue doing her crafts, but was facing some problems : where to get actual Hanji paper? How to find the proper tools, adhesives and supplies? What are the available alternatives if you just cannot find what you are looking for?

Jan gave us some useful tips to find supplies, or suitable alternatives that can be purchased in most Western countries. She also shared her story with us, from the moment she started doing Hanji in Korea over a decade ago, all the way to the establishment of her own Hanji studio in the U.A.E.. We also talked about her future projects, of course!

Connecting with other Hanji craft aficionados

This encounter was extremely meaningful to me. I was thrilled to be sitting there, surrounded by enthusiastic craft lovers who share my excitement for Hanji, and everything it has to offer. There were about a dozen of us, sitting together and talking about our passion, ideas, struggles, challenges and questions, and it was wonderful to be a part of it. What an energizing experience!

You need to know that, most of the time, I am alone with my Hanji. Alone with my designs, my glue, my joys, my doubts, and my mountains of paper. Of course I am surrounded by loving people who care about me and my craft, but I hadn't had a chance (before yesterday!) to meet and chat with other Hanji lovers who understand and share my passion for this craft. What a wonderful moment!

Jan Coveney (Hanji Happenings)
and Natalie Thibault (HanjiNaty)

After the talk I had a chance to continue my conversation with Jan, Anna, Trish and their loving family members over food and drinks. It was unbelievably exciting to talk about our journeys, as expats, teachers, and Hanji craft artists! We quickly discovered how much we have in common, and how much we can share and learn from each other's experiences abroad.

I feel privileged to have met such wonderful people, who are now not only like-minded Hanji lovers and creators, but now dear like-minded friends.

Ready for our next gathering!

We were even dreaming and planning our next meet-up! How about a "Korean Hanji Tour", where we could gather and visit some important places in Korea (Hanji paper factories and workshops, museums, etc.), go on Hanji shopping sprees and, why not, do some crafts together! I am ready, Ladies!


  1. Thank you for this interesting post Natalie! Sounds like a wonderful and exciting experience!

  2. What a fun trip! I hope that someday I actually get to meet one of my blogging/Etsy friends in person :)

  3. Hello!
    I just stumbled through your blog as I am interested in Hanji paper. I will be in Seoul this October and I hope to purchase some calligraphy supplies and Hanji paper. If you don't mind me asking, how much are Hanji papers sold for and can they be bought by sheets? I planned to go to Insadong and I want to be prepared to shop :)

    Thank you so much in advance!


    1. Hi Elle! :)
      Insadong is the best place to buy calligraphy and hanji supplies. You can buy Hanji by the sheets, and its price usually varies from 1,000won to 5,000won per sheet (depending on the size, pattern, texture, etc.). I would be more than happy to give you more details on the best shops to get Hanji : just drop me a line at :)