1,000-year-old paper, Hanji
Hanjijang refers to a craftsman skilled in the art of making traditional paper, hanji, from the bark of mulberry (Broussonetia kazinoki) trees and mulberry paste.
Making hanji requires great skill and extensive experience.
The mulberry bark has to be collected, steamed, boiled, dried, peeled, boiled again, beaten, mixed, strained, and dried; 99 processes are said to be required to get the paper in one’s hands, so the final process was also called baekji, meaning “one hundred paper.” Korean hanji was so famous back in the Goryeo Dynasty that the Chinese called the best-quality paper Goryeoji (literally meaning “Goryeo Paper”).
Sun Mu from the Song Dynasty of China lavished Goryeo paper with praises in his book Jilin leishi (Things on Korea), saying that it was white and glossy and lovely.
In the Joseon Dynasty, from the time of King Taejong, the state began to oversee paper production, establishing the office called Jojiseo (Paper Manufactory).
In modern times, however, the change in architectural styles and housing environment and the import of paper have led to the virtual disappearance of traditional hanji.
Today, because of high production costs, hanji is made with pulp imported from Southeast Asia rather than mulberry bark.
To keep the art of hanji alive and pass it on to the next generation, the Cultural Heritage Administration has designated hanji making an Important Intangible Cultural Heritage.