4 Korean Traditional Art Forms You Should Know

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Written by: Thanh Trâm + Thùy Linh


Korean culture is famous in many countries, especially Asia countries. For those who are attracted to Korean culture, it is impossible not to know history, literature, writing, etc. Besides that, we can not miss the best traditional art forms. They are interesting things about Korean culture that make us love this country more and more.


In this article, you will learn about:

  1. Traditional music art – Pansori and Gugak
  2. Pottery
  3. Handicrafts
  4. Embroidery- Yasu

Traditional Music Art: Pansori and Gugak

Pansori is a genre of musical storytelling performed by a singer – “gosu”  and a drummer – “sorikkun”. It was added to UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2003. The stories performed are Korean folk tales, especially satire stories and love stories popularity in the 1800s.


Nowadays, the audience of this genre is gradually decreasing. The Korean government launched a policy encouraging artists to perform pansori. That policy aims for the next generation to enjoy this unique traditional art.


Gugak is a genre of national music. It includes many dances, songs, and ceremonies. 


Gogak is divided into “jeongak” or “jeongga” which is performed in the royal court and Joseon aristocrats and folk music is performed for the King in national ceremonies

Arirang is a representative folk song listed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012. This is a song especially loved by Koreans because of its earnest melody and many lyrical variations.

korean art

2. Pottery

Korean ceramic history begins with the oldest earthenware from around 8000 BC. Throughout its history, the Korean peninsula has been home to lively, innovative, and sophisticated art making.

Korean pottery, objects made of clay and hardened by heat: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain of Korea. It is a favorite tradition conserved to this day. 


Korean pottery is divided into three main groups: jade glaze, white porcelain and enameled crockery. One of the difficulties in the study of Korean pottery is that practically everything has been recovered from tombs; few actual kiln sites have been discovered.


Among these groups, jade glazed pottery was developed by the Goryeo potters. This ceramic is noted for its eye-catching turquoise surface and delicate mosaic technique, often used for decorative purposes. In addition, glazed ceramic represents the ceramic art of the Joseon Dynasty. The group of glazed ceramics, crafted by Goryeo potters, features glazed surfaces and simple textures with a combination of different techniques.


The white porcelain represents the ceramic art of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). While some of these porcelain display a milky white surface, many are decorated with a variety of textures painted with priceless oxidized iron, copper, or cobalt blue dye imported from Ba Fourth through China.

korean art

3. Handicrafts

Experts highly appreciate Korean handicrafts because of their long history and skillful craftsmanship. The materials of Korean handicrafts are very close to everyday life: ceramics, fabrics, paper, metal, and wood.

Unlike other countries in Asia, Korean handicrafts also have their own identity, which is the beauty close to nature.

korean art


Originally used only for making hammers and ax handles, to making burial items, Korean woodwork reached its peak in the Koryo era, when shavings were used. colorful fish for inlaying on lacquered wooden objects, especially inlaying is most popular on boxes containing Buddhist scriptures or Buddha bracelets.

Later, mosaic carving techniques were also developed with materials such as colored turtle shells or cow horns.


Bojagi is a square piece of cloth with a border around it with different sizes, colors, and decorative motifs, Koreans often use it to wrap and wrap objects.

 In addition, Bojagi is used to make tablecloths, wrap clothes after washing, wrap letters, documents, books, etc. But nowadays, people rarely use BBojagi. It is only used during important holidays. Depending on the use case, there are different wrapping methods as well as silk fabrics used for wrapping.

In addition to being used to wrap things, bojagi also contains women’s dreams, hopes, and feelings, and expresses a woman’s deep love for her family members.

korean art

Paper Folding

Koreans have a long tradition in the art of paper folding and have also long used good quality paper to fold boxes, bowls with lids, large bowls, baskets, mesh bags, and vases. an ashtray. 

The type of paper used in the Korean art of paper folding is Hanji paper, which is made from the stalks of a paper mulberry tree lying on the limestone mountains several hundred years old. Hanji paper is of natural origin, very tough, durable, and beautiful, meeting the strict requirements in the art of paper folding.

korean art

4. Embroidery - Yasu

The Korean art of Yasu embroidery is divided into four categories: Pokshik Yasu embroidered on clothes, Kiyong Yasu embroidered on items used in the royal court, Kamsang Yasu representing artistic embroideries, and finally Buddhist Yasu. Koreans often embroider letters, flowers, birds, and plants. Thanks to that, the objects, under the artist’s hands, become vivid and fancy.


In addition, hand-embroidered patterns are also used to decorate household items such as pillows, towels, glasses cases, curtains, cigarette cases, spoons and chopsticks, and brushes.

In ancient times, commoners were not allowed to wear embroidered fabrics, except for the ceremonial clothes worn on the day of marriage.

Unlike the art of embroidery which serves purely decorative purposes, Yasu Buddhism decorates temples and statues, exclusively for religious purposes.

Currently, there are many beautiful and sophisticated products that are sold and mass-produced, so Yasu embroidery has disappeared and almost disappeared from Korea.

Along with the efforts of the artisans, the Korean culture, sports, and tourism industry has many measures to help bring the crafts back to life. And now Yasu embroidery is getting more attention.

korean art


The above article helps us to have interesting and useful knowledge about traditional art forms for those who love this country. We hope you enjoy this post and have more love for Korea.

Feel free to share your experience in Korea in the comment section. Opinions and thoughts are welcome!

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