Getting in closer touch with wonderful pottery from Jeju Island
For the last day on Jeju Island we rent a car for exploring a bit more of the inland. We have heard of Seong Chul Kang, a ceramist who is inspired by the traditional Jeju Island pottery, but developing his own style. Surprisingly easy we find his studio and see him in front of his house. At first he doesn’t seem to happy to see visitors, but after explaining that we work with tea in Portugal, he opens the door inviting us to his exhibition room, which has a wonderful inspiring and cosy atmosphere.
The exhibition room is also a coffee shop. And yes I mean coffee, as in Korea like in other Asian countries, coffee is getting more and more fashion. Seong Chul Kang seems happy to hear that we really like tea, he starts preparing a green tea from a tea producer in his neighbourhood. The tea has a light green colour with an elegant nose and a wonderful sweetness in the complex palate. It reminds us of the more delicate Chinese teas, but still has an own caracter.
I am excited to see the wonderful tea ceramics, which have very well balanced dimensions. Seong Chul Kang explains me, that all his ceramic is linked to the Onggi pottery style, which uses just local clay. Originally these ceramics are bigger pots with lids to store food like rice and ferment vegetables. In front of his studio we can see the big Onggi pots, which reflect all brown earth colours. In contrast the small tea pots are very delicate. The dominating colours are brown and black. The ceramist explains that in general he do not use glaze, all the different tones are coming from different burnings. For example the black pieces he burns again and again until the colour is perfect.
For better communication he calls his wife Mi Sun Jung, who helps explaining us some more details. She herself is ceramist, but makes more sculptures. As they are busy reorganizing the studio, they have to search for more pieces, which are stored in big boxes. It all takes a while and it is not easy to choose between all the nice, but also expensive, pieces. We decide to also take some ceramics with us to start selling it in Portugal. Mi Sun Jung and me start negotiating and it takes us a while to transform the prices into dollar, but we manage.
I really have to stop myself buying more and more as I like too many pieces. We all have to laugh and drink more and more tea. In the end the two offer us a beautiful black tea container and we say good bye, hoping to see each other again.