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[Eye Plus] Korean traditional painter helps haegeum blooms

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : Nov. 25, 2023 - 16:01

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As a staff of Haegeum Laboratory Moogung, Kim Da-rae draws traditional Korean paintings on haegeum, a traditional Korean instrument that consists of a wooden body with two strings and a bow.

“I am a haegeum creator who imbues a fresh wave into haegeum,” Kim said.

Kim majored in Korean art both in college and graduate school. She says it was lucky that she was able to become a designer after a long journey to find the right career for her.

“I had a dream to be an artisan who promotes Korea’s traditional culture to the world while making good use of what I studied and finally found this job, where I add the beauty of Korean art on traditional instrument haegeum,” she said, showing her works.

Each haegeum that passed her hand gained a different design, sometimes on request and sometimes from her inspiration.

“Every haegeum player receives their instrument with a different design, just like the waves they made which are different for each player. It is meaningful that I make unique haegeums,” Kim said.

“Some players ask me to put unusual patterns on their haegeums. Actually, it was perplexing at first. But I do my best for every customer,” Kim added.

Sometimes, her efforts to make special designs meet with difficulty.

“As haegeum is a traditional instrument, its design needs to be something that preserves the classic beauty of the instrument. However, the design should also have a modern edge. Exposing both at once is challenging,” Kim said.

“But funny ideas come out to save me when my work is deadlocked.”

“I once tried to draw a tiger on a haegeum, but it didn’t seem to fit into the instrument. While exploring ideas, I was instantly inspired and drew tiger fur with a fine brush instead of a whole tiger. The work was greatly appreciated,” she added.

A growing interest in her pattern gives her pride in developing tradition.

“I see more and more foreigners focus on traditional Korean culture. It is very rewarding for me,” Kim said.

“However, the growth of appreciation is somehow weak in Korea. My goal is to attract more people to know the beauty of haegeum as it is as well as the sound of it. I will continue to seek to create more traditional designs for the goal,” she added.

Photos by Lee Sang-sub

Written by Lee Sang-sub, Lim Jae-seong