Yanggu, Gangwon Province, which is right at the center of the Korean Peninsula that includes
North Korea, has been known for its porcelain products for a long time. In particular, Bangsan
has been a historical location in the heart of white porcelain culture. Yanggu White Porcelain
Museum is located right here.
White porcelain, which was made of white clay, was the most beloved and the most precious creation during the Joseon Dynasty. Many old texts recorded that Bangsan was known for its quality of white clay, and was a major site of white porcelain production. <Sejong Sillok Jiriji> and <Sinjeungdonggukyeojiseungnam> state about Yanggu’s porcelain production center, and other relevant records can be found in <Sukjong Sillok>, <Yeongjo Sillok>, and <Sokdaejeon>. Gwangju Bunwon, which was a public porcelain plant established in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province in the 15th century, created porcelain for the Royal Family. Bangsan supplied quality white clay to succeed Gwangju Bunwon’s techniques and aesthetics. Yanggu is the only place in Korea to continue white porcelain production for nearly 600 years, from the Goryeo Dynasty to the 20th century. About 40 kilns have been found around Yanggu, and it seems that they were used until the 1950s. Yanggu White Porcelain Museum is located in an open site nearly 8,200 square meters, where you could enjoy the history and beauty of white porcelain in different spaces – an exhibition hall, a museum shop, a traditional kiln, and a beautiful garden. Surrounded by mountains in all directions, the museum evokes a comfortable and cozy mood, along with the cute white porcelain objects throughout the area. The building also resembles the beauty of Bangsan’s white porcelain, and its texture is more noticeable than its shape. The compacted earthen walls and the black concrete architecturally require a complicated process of building and maintaining, just like the process of porcelain-making. Elm trees and Fraxinus rhynchophylla trees around the building, which are used to make the glaze, also bring porcelain close to the architecture.
The exhibition hall, which is about 430 square meters in size, displays the white porcelain of the
Yanggu area along with the collections of Yanggu White Porcelain Museum and the porcelainmaking
tools, such as Dochim and Gapbal. The videos playing in the background explain the history
of Yanggu and the porcelain, and the flow of white porcelain. It is also interesting to appreciate the old
white porcelain along with the new white porcelain created by contemporary artists at the same time.
At Yanggu White Porcelain Museum’s experience hall, you could make your own white
porcelain. There are electric kilns, gas kilns, and fire kilns on which you could try making
porcelain outdoors and indoors. It is a unique opportunity to experience the entire process of
porcelain-making, from shaping the clay to firing it in the kiln. The traditional kiln is much
bigger than you could vaguely imagine. A wall of firing wood piled by the kiln shows the
process of how the clay endures enormous heat to turn into a durable vessel.
The white porcelain you see in the beautiful scenery of Yanggu resembles nature and its people. It represents the people’s desire to discover the virtue of nature. Such virtue includes beauty, durability, and the countless possibilities created through emptying. The texture of the fine and soft white clay still lingers at the fingertip.