Experience Bukchon: Gold Leaf Printing
A few months back, The Soul of Seoul Tours hosted a cultural event here in Seoul in which the participants got to dress up in Hanboks, or traditional Korean clothing, walk around Bukchon, partake in a gold leaf printing experience program and drink some traditional tea in a Hanok house.
Everyone had a great time and the gold leaf works really came out great for everyone involved as well so I wanted to a post specifically on the KumBakYeon experience.
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To start, booking a group for the experience was relatively easy. Granted I can speak Korean at a conversational level, so I called them up and they were thrilled to have us. They even made it so that while our group was there, no other wanderers could come in. This was really wonderful as it allowed our group of Hanbok adorned guests to get to know each other, talk and not have to introduce themselves all over again to new people coming in for just this part of our tour. The staff was extremely hospitable and really went out of their way to make sure we had everything that we would need ahead of time.
In Korea, gold is a symbol of eternity, beauty and authority so gilding on cloth is meant to show elegance as well as hope, according to the info provided.
While other countries used gold gilded onto buildings and other architectural decor, Korea advanced the techniques of gilding onto silk with a woodblock imprinting technique. During the experience, guests are given a practice square of cloth and are asked to choose a woodblock with their chosen pattern. Next they are given instruction on how to transfer the gold leaf onto the cloth through a process of heating up glue and quite delicately patting. Most everyone’s first go at it was a bit sloppy, though there were a few standouts, but it was clear that this practice cloth is pretty invaluable as no one wants to err on the actual product they’ll take home. While wearing Hanboks for the experience isn’t at all necessary but just something we did for our tour, they sure do look great in the photos as they partake in a traditional Korean experience, don’t they?
During the Joseon Dynasty, clothing with gold leaf were used by the royals as a way to beautify their clothing and show their authority and desire for national prosperity through the various patterns that were depicted. Because the patterns were so important, there were strict rules and guidelines for how the gold leaf needed to be placed and where. Obviously, for our purposes, the rules aren’t all that important and everyone was free to choose which pattern or stamp reflected their own personalities. The staff explained, in pretty good English, what to do and how and gave some background information as well. They were a bit nervous and said not to mind their broken English attempt at descriptions, but they really did fantastic and everyone caught on quickly.
There are numerous traditional Korean experiences to partake in in Bukchon like this one so when you visit, don’t be fearful of looking inside those open Hanok homes to see what fun awaits! You can even sleep inside some of them for that authentic Korean experience.
Experiences Available at KumBakYeon:
Gilding on a Greeting Card: Imitation gold: W10,000/ Pure gold: W40,000
Gilding on a Book Mark: Imitation gold: W15,000/ Pure gold: W50,000
Gilding on a Ribbon: Imitation gold: W15,000/ Pure gold: W50,000
Gilding on a Pouch: Imitation gold: W20,000/ Pure gold: W60,000
Kum Bak Yeon
Jongno-gu Gahoe-dong 11-18, Seoul, Korea
서울 종로구 가회동 11-18
Hours: Monday ~ Friday: 10:00am ~ 5:00pm; Saturday: 10:00am ~ 3:00pm
*Some photos in this post provided directly from KumBakYeon.