Born in Seoncheon, Pyeonganbuk-do in 1937, Mr. Kim Chong-hak (金宗學), one of Korea’s most renowned painters, continues to actively work as a painter. In 1989, he gave the National Museum of Korea around 300 items that he had collected throughout his lifetime.

The donated items are mostly woodcraft works from the late Joseon Dynasty, especially household goods and religious and ritual items. According to the Confucian social ethics that dominated the Joseon Dynasty, the living spaces of men and women were largely kept separate. Subsequently, household goods designed for male and female living areas show very different characteristics. The donated items encompass a range of goods used by both genders, including objects traditionally found in a sarangbang (male study room) and items from the main room and kitchen, which were occupied by women. Buddhism and shamanism were also major influences at the time, as reflected by Buddhist woodcraft works, such as small statues and figures of people, typically used for funeral biers or shrines.

Mr. Kim’s donation was a tremendous boost to the National Museum’s woodcraft collection, helping raise awareness of interest in traditional Korean woodcraft.