Korea is a world-renowned center of ceramic production. While the development of other Korean art forms—calligraphy, painting, architecture, or sculpture—is strongly linked with that of neighboring China, Korean ceramics stand out as highly individual and largely independent of such cultural exchanges. Perhaps their most remarkable quality is an inherent spontaneity, seen in their uneven shapes and playful designs. Imperfection—a characteristic that strongly distinguishes Korean ceramics from Chinese—is not only tolerated but accepted and respected as enhancing the beauty and individuality of a piece.
The five celebrated ceramic artists whom noted art historian Burglind Jungmann has selected to form the focus of this study—Kim Yikyung, Yoon Kwang-cho, Lee Kang Hyo, Lee Young-Jae, and Lee In Chin—all have established and well-deserved reputations in Korea, and some of them have strong international ties as well. Kim Yikyung, for example, was educated at Alfred University in New York State; Lee Young-Jae pursued studies in Germany and has established her ceramic practice there; and Lee In Chin, although born in Seoul, was raised in California and attended college there before continuing his studies in Korea and Japan. These particular artists have been chosen in part because their works acknowledge and engage with Korean ceramic tradition while remaining innovative, contemporary pieces of art.