Videos: Korean art & society
Background information about Korean history and society.
Buddhism in Korea
Buddhist ideas strongly influenced Korean art and society. For instance, delicate, green-glazed vessels played a part in temple life, reflecting the quiet, contemplative atmosphere needed for religious observance. Also, many objects in the V&A's collections depict lotus flowers, suggesting spiritual growth towards enlightenment.
Writing in Korea
Contemporary artists such as Shin Young-Ok draw on a literary tradition in their work that stretches back over the centuries. The Korean alphabet was designed and introduced in 1446 AD. Koreans revered writing and learning, and texts were hand written, or printed from woodblocks or pieces of type.
Power and ritual in Korea
The King and his court sat at the centre of government in early Korea. Many decorative objects, such as dress ornaments and ceramics painted in blue, red or brown pigments carry meanings relating to royal power and status. These include cranes in flight, shown on embroidered badges denoting the rank of officials, and scaly dragons that encircle the robust porcelain jars of the Choson period (1392-1910).