One Artist’s Audacious Pursuit of Traditional Korean Hanji


– I don’t know how not to be creative. It’s something that just, it just like
runs through my blood just like being Korean does. It’s never been enough
for me to just make Hanji. I’m an artist. (bright string music) My name is Aimee Lee, and
my life mission is to make and promote Hanji across the world. Hanji is, as an umbrella
term, just Korean paper, but the kind of Hanji
that I’m interested in is made according to the
tradition and made by hand and made from scratch. I was born in New York City
to Korean immigrant parents who taught me Korean in the household. Growing up, I loved making
music and so, I always had that proclivity towards the arts. But I didn’t know anything
about paper making until I went to graduate
school for book arts. When I was looking for
information on Hanji, there was very little,
at least in English, so it became very clear that
if I wanted to learn more about Hanji, I would have
to go directly to Korea. (soft music) The paper mulberry tree
that grows in Korea has to withstand the Korean monsoon season where it’s really hot
and humid in the summer, and then these intense,
snowy cold winters. So this tree is incredibly
resilient and really strong. Not only does that tree have
to withstand that climate, the people do too, so
bringing those two things together creates a product
that’s totally different from any other place. (foreign speaking) Traditionally, Hanji is made by men. And a lot of them just took
one look at me and said, “You’re a woman. “You can’t do this,” or they would say, “You’re not strong enough.” That was just so far out of what they knew that they didn’t believe
me until they saw me work. (foreign speaking) I’d never thought about
it because it’s just what I’ve been driven to do,
but I know from the outside, it looks like I have a lot
of audacity for trying to do something that only
men traditionally do, and even to this day do. (foreign speaking) When I came back from Korea,
I was doing all this weaving, which is a Korean
tradition called Jiseung. You have to cut big sheets
of paper into narrow strips and then you have to make cords
and then out of these cords, you can then weave like basketry. (foreign speaking) I think that the way that
you keep tradition alive is to just keep evolving it. The most exciting work I’ve
been doing with the weaving is making ducks, and those are based on Korean wedding ducks that
are given to bride and groom to promote marital fidelity and fertility. People were very surprised
when I came to them saying, “Oh, I wanna learn how to make Hanji,” but you have to know when
to walk away and you also have to know when to
recognize that someone may be able to give you
a chance, even if you are a very strange bird.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Great Big Story is such a great channel that keeps everyone interested the only reason I didn't turn notifications on when I subscribed was because with the amount of content they produce daily my notification bar would be full every day!

  2. i still don't get what makes this paper special. i feel like these videos always end right before they highlight anything interesting about the product that they've been hyping up this whole time is supposed to be.

  3. theres a girl just like her in my grade. She thinks very highly of herself and subtly thinks she is better that everyone else. I think this is the product of having very strict parents. Too bad

  4. Shout out to Aimee! All the best for being a pioneer for women and continuing your rich heritage and culture. Hope it pays off!

  5. What a beautiful story. It's so nice to see a person full of determination sharing with the world the artist within in the artwork that is to be seen and touched in filth and viewed by others and appreciated by the ones who receive it as a gift or a trade.

  6. Thank you for sharing your passion Aimee. With so much modernization going on it is up to artists and craftsman to keep traditional trades alive. Now… where do I get my hands on some Hanji paper in the US??

  7. this girl is like: ok I got my art school diploma, so I need to get know about something, otherwise everything it's going to be a waste of time, ok I got it, lets go to Korea and know some ancient art (because Asians have art for everything) and then I take that to NY (the hipster capital of the world) and sell it there because in Korea isn't profit, and then SUPER brag about how rocket science it is making it (in this case paper)

  8. Some people in the comments…Realy. "Bitch, you make papers". Yes, she make papers, the traditional way, that requires a LOT of PATIENCE + trial and errors. Hell, even modern paper-making, even the DIY paper also requires PATIENCE to make, that clearly some of us don't have. Don't dismiss something so trivial when you can't even do it yourself.

  9. U r such an inspiration. Your determination and talent is incredible. I am so grateful I stumbled across your story in a beauty video ad. I watched there and then came to the Big Story channel to find out more.

  10. I never heared an "artist" being this narcistic as telling that he/she is very "creative". You will only be creative and an artist when others recognise you as being an artist. It's something that you need to show not tell. I can call myself the best German painter, but that doesn't do shit.

  11. Why are people so hard on her craft? She makes art with specialty paper that's rooted in her culture and has been predominantly male focused. She wanted to prove to herself that she can also create beautiful work using hanji and she has. Of course, there's still so much for her to learn and more room to grow, but the fact that she found a way to let out her creativity while also not being put down by the criticism she faced solely based on her gender, is something that we should respect her for.

    That being said, this video was very informative and I never knew about the art of hanji as a piece of Korean culture

  12. i don't get why you people hate on someone being proud of what they've accomplished with their life and someone happy in who they are and what they do to embrace where they came from, lol. maybe youre just not happy with yourself? have you thought about that?

  13. Ah, the fragility of the male ego. It's hilarious how many of them are triggered by her confidence as a female pioneer in her specialty 😂

  14. I want to know more about her craft and what makes it so great. Not about the politics behind her learning it. Your video would get less hate if you kept up that standard.

  15. Talented, super creative, strong personality, disciplined, willpower, hard working lady! Sadly I don't have to say this because she is aware that she is all that. I personally don't like people that are full of themselves.

  16. She got on a plane, found the guy and learned how to make hanji. That is dedication. Also creativity is a state of mind that some of us lose through overconsumption of garbage.

  17. 그냥 '한지공예하는 사람이 있다'면 됬지 갖잖은 성차별 프레임을 들먹이고 자빠졌냐. 진짜 그지같은 영상이네.

  18. wow so amazing love this video love aimee and hanji 영어못해서 한스럽다ㅠㅠ 멋져요 감동이구요 작품도 너무 아름다워요 구경해보고싶어요

  19. It's so sad how offended people get by confidence and self-assurance. It's fine if you think the artist came across as a little arrogant, but damn, crucify her why don't you? The enraged self-righteousness coming from these comments in response to a simple story of creativity and success is actually insane.

  20. Beautiful stuff! LOVE the ducks. In a world full of too many fools with no patience or class (just check out some of the sad tragics on this comment thread!) it is so nice to see someone reviving an old tradition and art and taking the time to get so much joy out of it. And bringing joy to others… congratulations Aimee!

  21. why are people salty whenever there's something gender related mentioned? In asia it's true that some people will look down on you (INITIALLY) if you're a woman doing typically man's work. she's just pointing it out. It is important to show that woman can do it too. who knows, this might encourage other girls who are interested to start practicing this craft.

  22. Korean "traditional paper" is stealing Japanese technology and materials.
    Korea wants traditional culture.
    And lies and stealing are Korean traditional culture.

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