Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation celebrates 20th anniversary - Korea Times
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Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation celebrates 20th anniversary

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Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation's 20th anniversary exhibition 'Homecoming' is held at the Arumjigi Anguk-dong Hanok through Dec. 5. Courtesy of Arumgiji Culture Keepers Foundation
Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation's 20th anniversary exhibition 'Homecoming' is held at the Arumjigi Anguk-dong Hanok through Dec. 5. Courtesy of Arumgiji Culture Keepers Foundation

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation Chairperson Shin Yun-gyun / Courtesy of Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation
Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation Chairperson Shin Yun-gyun / Courtesy of Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation
The Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Korean culture, commemorates its 20th anniversary with the exhibition "Homecoming" at Seochon and Bukchon, two of Seoul's oldest neighborhoods.

Founded in 2001, Arumjigi has been taking part in preservation of royal palaces as well as other cultural heritage sites and recreation of the interiors of palace buildings.

The foundation is also actively engaged in restoring hanok, or traditional Korean houses, and operates them as cultural spaces.

It operates several hanok cultural spaces including the Arumjigi Anguk-dong Hanok and the Arumjigi office building in Tongui-dong, where the "Homecoming" exhibit is being held.

Arumjigi's first purchase was its hanok in the Bukchon area in Anguk-dong, which was renovated and used as the foundation's first headquarters. It also renovated a 150-year-old hanok in Hamyang, South Gyeongsang Province. The foundation was commissioned to operate two historic houses owned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government ― Hong Geon-ik's House and Bae Ryum's House.

"Arumjigi celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and I hope for the anniversary exhibition to provide a look back on Arumjigi's previous exhibitions and share thoughts on the foundation's next steps together," Arumjigi Chairperson Shin Yun-gyun, also known as Yun Gyun S. Hong, said in a statement.

Shin mentioned that early Arumjigi exhibitions aimed to bring tradition to daily life, proving that traditional food, clothing and shelter can blend with contemporary lifestyles.

"Homecoming" emphasizes the significance of the hanok in Arumjigi's spirit and invites artists and visitors of the previous exhibitions back to the place where it all began.

Previous Arumjigi exhibitions focused on a single theme ― food, clothing or shelter ― but this year's exhibit encompasses all three themes and items showcased through 18 previous special exhibitions since 2004.

Some 200 artists, artisans and designers presented about 850 objects at the past exhibitions, combining traditional crafts with a modern touch. Among them, fashion designers Jin Te-ok, Jung Wook-jun and Im Seon-oc; ceramic artists Kwon Dae-sup and Hwang Kap-sun; furniture designers Ha Ji-hoon and Bahk Jong-sun; and Onjium Culinary Studio took part in the anniversary exhibition.

The Anguk-dong Hanok had been closed to the public since the foundation's headquarters moved to Tongui-dong in 2013, but it was renovated into a place to share the hanok lifestyle for this exhibition.

In addition to the annual exhibit, one of Arumjigi's first and most important tasks is volunteering for cleaning palace grounds in Seoul.

"Cleaning up is tidying to maintain a good first impression. If you want to keep a nice first impression of a person or an object, you have to clean up your mind and surroundings," Shin said.

"Many cultural properties are covered with dust and they only reveal their true self after cleaning. You can find whether the column or rafter is damaged or new wallpaper is needed only after you clean the place up. Cleaning is not a one-off event and it will continue for as long as Arumjigi exists."


Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr


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