Korea’s Pottery Hub: City of Ceramic Art, Icheon

Icheon is known as a center of Korean ceramic manufacturing and designated as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Arts. Gyeonggi-do operates policies that support the cultural industry and artist

Icheon Ceramics Korea

History of Korean Ceramics

Ancient Korean pottery – such as clay pots and earthenware – uncovered from various sites can be traced back to the Icheon City region of Gyeonggi-do. This proves that Icheon has a long history of ceramic production. Many potters ceramic artisans have moved to Icheon over the years since it is geographically close to Seoul and renowned as a ceramics region.

However, as plastics became more popular, demand for ceramics decreased and many pottery kilns closed one by one.

Icheon Pottery Korea
Korean pottery developed a distinct style of its own

After the Korea-Japan Agreement was signed in 1965 and Japanese were allowed to visit Korea, the demand for traditional ceramics surged again. Kilns were established and the production of pottery was renewed, reviving the industry.

Since then, Icheon City has become a major producer of traditional Korean ceramics. When the Korean Traditional Ceramics Association was established in April 1981, a more organized framework for activity promotion was set up with annual exhibitions for its members so as to further expand the base of ceramics.

The Icheon Ceramics Association was launched in April 1995 with the goal of internationalizing the Icheon Ceramics Festival, which began in September 1987, as well as developing the Korean ceramics industry. These efforts ensured that the Icheon Ceramics Festival could inform people at home and abroad about the history and traditions of Icheon ceramic culture.

Icheon Ceramics Village

If you are interested in learning more about ceramics, particularly Korean ceramics, there is a place in Icheon where you can learn about the cultural aspects of Korean pottery. The defining colors and shapes used in Korean pottery portray the different styles and techniques of successive Korean dynasties.

Icheon Ceramic Festival Ye's Park
South Korea's biggest crafts village - Ye's Park in Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do 
ⓒ 이천시 블로그

Ye’s Park is an arts and crafts village in Korea where over 300 ceramic, craft, art, and music workshops and cafes have congregated. It’s an extremely large area where you can explore galleries and cafes, and many of these places have both exterior and interior displays.

The word “Ye” means “art” in the Chinese characters traditionally used in Korea, and thus this area is a park for art. It is a space where people can express themselves through pottery, artworks and crafts, while also educating others. Many of these places sell handmade ceramics, and many also offer pottery classes! You can search for options online and then make a reservation in advance. There may be a queue if you choose to go without a reservation. You can also choose to do it alone or with guidance from an expert.

Ceramic Theme Park - Icheon Cerapia

Incheon Ceramic Utopia – also known as Cerapia – is a family-friendly theme park. The main attraction, the Icheon World Ceramic Center, has a collection of over 2,000 modern ceramic works and exhibits ceramic pieces from all around the world. In addition, it is an integrated cultural space where visitors can observe, enjoy hands-on experiences, and communicate with artists directly.

Korea Icheon Cerapia Pottery Ceramics
Cerapia is an exhibition center of contemporary ceramic works in Icheon, Gyeonggi-do

In May 2019, through the creation of the World Ceramic Center International Exchange Plaza, Icheon Cerapia was transformed into a ceramic hub with comprehensive amenities through which ceramic artisans from around the world can interact with each other.

There is also a ceramics experience center in Yeoju City as well as a ceramics park in Gwangju City, which are located within a 30-minute drive of Icheon Cerapia.

Gyeonggi-do Support for the Ceramic Industry

Gyeonggi-do is doing its utmost to support local traditional and cultural industries. One of these support initiatives is K-Ceramic, an online ceramics catalog. The Korean Ceramics Foundation launched K-Ceramic and hosts a representative product contest in which exemplary artisans and items are selected through internal and external screenings.

K-Ceramic Gyeonggi-do Korea
KOCEF(Korea Ceramics Foundation) launched K-Ceramic ⓒ GYEONGGI PROVINCE

Benefits for participants range from overseas promotion, export consultation and support, overseas merchandising, and exhibition priority opportunities. K-Ceramic ensures that Korean ceramics are represented abroad among other Korean cultural contents such as K-Pop and K-Beauty.

This online catalog was designed to highlight highly competitive Korean ceramics that represent the country in the ceramics category and introduce these items to overseas buyers with strong purchasing power, thereby developing a ceramic market and securing a strong foothold in the ceramic export industry.

Gyeonggi-do support ceramic artists in Icheon

Another way Gyeonggi-do is protecting the ceramic industry is through a group of 63 students referred to as the ‘Ceramic Keepers’. A ceremony was held for the launch of the Ceramic Keepers on July 23, 2019, at Icheon Cerapia. These students are undergraduate and graduate students in ceramics, design and other art-related majors. Their mission is to protect ceramic designs and to implement measures to prevent art theft so as to maintain fairness within the ceramic industry of the region. From the months of August to December, they hold anti-theft campaigns while investigating ceramic product design in major markets, shops, and online malls.

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Gyeonggido-Korea (경기도): Korea’s Pottery Hub: City of Ceramic Art, Icheon
Korea’s Pottery Hub: City of Ceramic Art, Icheon
Icheon is known as a center of Korean ceramic manufacturing and designated as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Arts. Gyeonggi-do operates policies that support the cultural industry and artist
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