Saturday, May 30, 2015

HanjiNaty at the 2015 Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival~!

The 2015 edition of the Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival was held in the beautiful city of Jeonju (Jeollabuk-do province) from May 2 to May 5 2015.

This year was the 19th edition of this event, and I was really looking forward to it, as last year's edition was cancelled (following the tragic accident of the Sewol ferry).

HanjiNaty was there for the 4-day event, with a booth in the market area. During the Festival, I had the occasion to meet some wonderful people, present my handmade creations to many visitors, and fraternize with my fellow Hanji artists and artisans.

New products in the HanjiNaty booth

In my booth I was offering to visitors a nice range of Hanji paper earrings, hair barrettes, and home decor items, including coasters, plates, tissue box covers and pen holders.

Handmade hair accessories, including headbands and barrettes,
were available for sale in the HanjiNaty booth.
Recently I have started to create new jewelry pieces, including brooches and necklaces. I have also added to my collection pony hair ties, that were quite popular!

Visitors seem to appreciate these latest additions, and it is giving me the desire to continue my exploration! I am planning on working on some leather bracelets with Hanji paper beads; I'll keep you posted with my progress, of course.

Meaningful encounters

One of the things I love the most about participating in festivals and craft shows is meeting customers, fellow artisans and visitors, and have the time to chat with them.

We made sure to place a sign in our booth that our visitors can expect to be served in English, Korean, French or German!

My husband and I put our linguistic skills to good use during the Festival, as we had the chance to meet visitors from France, Austria, North America, Australia, New Zealand, China, and of course, Korea.

People were generally very kind, and genuinely interested in my creative process. I had to answer the question "How did a foreigner end up doing Hanji crafts?" a few times; it is a fair inquiry, I believe I am the first Westerner to ever sell their own Hanji creations in the Jeonju Festival.

... The right site for the Festival?

This year, new brooches, pony tail ties, hair barrettes and
necklaces were available in the HanjiNaty booth.
This year the Festival site was once again set up around the Hanji Industry Support Center and the Traditional Cultural Center, a few blocks away from Jeonju City Hall. Despite the fact that these recently-erected buildings are very attractive, they remain fairly unknown to the general public.

Visitors and tourists are still naturally drawn to the Hanok Village, a popular traditional neighbourhood where you can find many art galleries, tea shops, tiny museums, etc., and where the Festival used to be held (until 2012), rather than the new Festival site.

I think the Festival is suffering from this lack of visibility, as the foot traffic wasn't as abundant as expected. I personally know several people who had difficulty finding the site, even when taking a taxi (many drivers didn't even seem to know where the Festival is located, which is quite troublesome).

It seems logical to have the Festival celebrating Hanji paper next to the Center dedicated to this sublime material, but we have to ask ourselves: is it the right location for a Festival that aims to attract large numbers of visitors? Is it the best way to host a successful event, that is appealing to the tourists, profitable for the vendors, and fruitful for the Hanji industry and community?

Odd configuration

Another thing that could be improved for the next edition of the Jeonju Hanji Festival is the configuration of the site.

This year, the Festival was spread on a wider radius, and the different zones (hands-on activities, Hanji market and stage area) were quite far from each other.

I think it would be beneficial to have the different zones closer to each other, and all grouped around the central stage area. In my opinion, it would keep the festive spirit up, and improve traffic to the different areas of the Festival, including the market, the shops inside the Cultural Center, the kids' zone, the National Contest Exhibit, as well as the hands-on activities. It would also encourage the vendors to keep their booths open later in the evenings, when the fashion shows attract visitors at night.

A great experience

Overall it was a great experience. I had a good time, met some fantastic people and did some good business. I was happy and proud to be participating in this event in Jeonju, the city where I discovered Hanji, and where I learned Hanji crafts. You can count on me for next year, especially knowing that 2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Jeonju Hanji Festival!

Thank you so much to my wonderful husband and partner.
Many thanks!

I want to take the time to warmly thank the people who helped and supported me throughout this adventure.

All my heartfelt gratitude to my extraordinary husband and partner, without whom I would have never succeeded the way I did.

I am also very grateful to all my friends (including my beloved Hanji teacher) who took the time to visit my booth during the Festival! I was also thrilled to see my Hanji friend Jan Coveney from Hanji Happenings, who visited Jeonju with her lovely sisters. It was wonderful to see you and feel your encouragement and support.

I want to especially thank my friend Byung Tae Goo for the beautiful photos you can see in this post.

See you all next year for the 20th Edition of the Jeonju Hanji Culture Festival !


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  2. Lovely booth! Next year will be even better!

  3. What an exciting opportunity to showcase your creations!

  4. What an exciting opportunity to showcase your creations!