What is a relationship that determines human life?
There are times when individuals can't help themselves.
Especially, for the people who live in a time of long-running wars or upheaval that changes the country, it becomes more difficult to decide on one's own life.
It is easy to face unexpected difficulties and hardships when you sail against the wind and waves.
So did my grandparents' generation.
They were born as the last Joseon Dynasty people, lived during the Japanese colonial period, and became the first Koreans.
As soon as they were liberated, it was divided into the South and the North, and a fierce ideological conflict began which eventually led to war.
The fratricidal conflict was a tragedy in itself.
An era of upheaval is an opportunity for someone, but most people have to experience great hardships.
The reason why I'm describing the life of a generation that is now forgotten before my work is because after all, my life is not irrelevant to them, and the aesthetic source of my work starts from my grandparents' experience.
My ancestors hid in the deep mountains to escape the wrath of extinction.
Grandmother also fled to the same mountain village and met my grandfather and formed a family after fleeing to avoid the anger of her family, which was shattered by ideological conflicts after the liberation.
My first childhood memory was always in my grandmother's arms.
My grandmother sang Arirang whenever she was happy or sad.
Arirang, the sad melody that I heard in my grandmother's arms, was an incomprehensible emotion and an indescribable beauty to me as a child.
I've tried to understand and express the echoes of that time for a while, but it was difficult for me to fully interpret the feelings of sorrow accumulated for a long time in the individual's life.
It's sad but beautiful. It takes a lot of time to learn the contradictory impression.
I couldn’t find anything that made me feel such a deep emotion after childhood for a long time.
Time passed and on one random day in my 20s, I found a profound jar.
It had been used for decades with a lot of scratches and cracks, but as if they were nothing, it stood there sturdy and solid; it was the white porcelain jar of the Joseon Dynasty that faced me.
Agony starts from the moment they leave their mother's womb.
Once you've cut the umbilical cord out of the Garden of Eden, cold, heat, disease, and hunger equally await all human beings.
We live. That alone is the weight of human life.
But human life is also valuable and beautiful.
Everyone suffers yet enjoys life.
The beauty of the scars that white porcelain jars have had over the years has deeply resonated with me as if they had calmly sublimated the hardships and wounds received in life into something beautiful.
It's sad but beautiful. The Joseon Dynasty's white porcelain jar filled my thirst for emotions that had not been released for a long time.
Unlike white porcelain pigments made for painting, this white porcelain is made from natural materials, which helps to focus on the pure white beauty itself.
White porcelain itself is extravagant and fancy. The white porcelain hides its natural splendor, yet
It does not lose its dignity and reveal itself; it is a deep and lively object.
In the past, I thought that if I get technically mature, the work will flow in the direction I want. However, what was more important was the human will.
Of course, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make good ceramic works.
But that level of effort is fundamental and it depends on the human’s willpower to bring out more than that.
One’s life is fully incorporated into the will of the human being.
After all, the work is to capture the artist's life.
Kim Dong Jun
Translated by Leah Lee