Onggi Jar for Growing Bean Sprouts 2016 Onggi clay, ash glaze, finger drawn surface decoration Reduction firing 28(ø)X36(h)cm

LEE Haksu is the 9th generation onggi maker as his family has continued in the trait for about three hundred years. Located in an area known as Miryeok in the south-western province of Korea, the family has been there for centuries. His father and grandfather were designated as Intangible Cultural Assets and Lee himself is South Jeolla Province Intangible Cultural Asset No. 37.

He took charge of operating the pottery since 1976 continuing in the traditional ways from making the clay to forming into functional objects and then finally firing the pieces. The pottery produces at least one hundred different types of items made on the foot-kicking wheel and using the slab-building method similar to OH Hyangjong. From large food storing jars to everyday utilitarian wares, this onggi pottery is still in full operation known to produce most of Korea’s onggi items. Today Korean people still use this type of ceramics as it is the most appropriate for storing Korean pickled cabbage known as “kimchi” and for different sauces.

Many onggi potteries are disappearing as the skill required to learn takes at least fifteen years. Young makers do not have the patience to invest much time in learning skills. Therefore there are only few makers. Furthermore the clay is still dug from Korean land. The process is tedious requiring much labor. The glaze applied to onggi is not a chemical mixture but a natural one, a combination of clay and a type of wood ash. For this reason the onggi is known as a health conscious ceramics. Unlike other onggi potteries, Lee still practices in the ancient method he is a one-of-a-kind continuing in his family tradition.

LEE Haksu

  • 2000Inherited Miyeok Onggi Pottery
  • 1998Completed course requirements in Ceramics at Graduate School, Dankook University
  • 1996Designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 96, Onggi Master descending the trait
  • 1994Designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 96, Onggi Master
  • 1990Designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 96, Onggi Master
  • 1976Inherited family business from deceased father LEE Okdong (9th generation)
Main Exhibitions
  • 1998Special Exhibition on Onggi, Tongin Gallery, Seoul
  • 1995Traditional Onggi Exhibition, Yaejeon Gallery, Changwon, Gyeongsangnam Province
  • 1992Traditional Utilitarian Onggi Exhibition, Lotte World Folk Museum, Seoul
Main Awards
  • 1998Special Prize, the 23rd Traditional Craft Competition
  • 1997Grand Prize, the 4th Korean Ceramic Competition