Hanji is Korea’s traditional paper and it has a very long history. First, we have to trace the history of paper manufacturing technology of Korea. By doing so, we are able to guess when Hanji paper making began. Unfortunately, the exact year or history of paper manufacturing technology is not known. Old documents of China and Japan, however, say that Korea’s history of paper making technology is traced back to Silla-Goryo period(4th century - 7th century).
Wonju was the home of Hanji and Wonju has been called the mecca of Hanji in Korea because Wonju had vast fields of paper mulberry and the quality of Hanji from Wonju was excellent.
Until the year of 1991, thirteen up to fifteen Hanji production factories were operating in Wonju. Fields of paper mulberry are still neatly unfolded in three vast areas of Wonju.
In Wonju, especially Hojeo-myeon(好楮面) is where paper mulberry is profusely planted and grown, compared to other areas in Wonju and also in Korea. This is practically evident in the village name of Hojeo-myeon(好楮面), because ‘jeo(楮)’means ‘paper mulberry’. Just as the village name of Hojeo-myeon tells us, Wonju is the area which is located in the geographical center of Korea, and Wonju has several areas of good soil quality and good amount of sunshine good for the growth of plants, so that mulberry trees grow so well. Hojeo-myeon is the most representative of such areas.
In Wonju, there are several old temple sites that are registered as national and Gangwon-do provincial’s treasures, including relics of the prehistoric ages. Temples served as one of places that used lots of papers, and thus places around temples were the producer and consumer of paper mulberry.
Besides, villages and fields of paper mulberry flourished in Wonju, so did the printing culture, because Gangwon Gam-young, which is the Gangwon-do Province Government where governor and public officials worked, and other public institutions, were in the center of Wonju for the past five hundred years during the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910). For this reason, Gangwon Gam-young and these public organizations consumed an immeasurable amount of papers. Thus, it can be said that the history of Wonju Hanji has the same trajectory with the Wonju history.
Features of Wonju Hanji
The adjective, colorful, may well describe Wonju Hanji. For this reason, Wonju Hanji was also used to make handicrafts. The reason why Wonju Hanji is highly recognized is that Wonju is one of best places to grow paper mulberry and good place of quality water supply.
Paper mulberry trees are grown in a moderate climate and environment of the Korea’s central inland region, thus their quality is well known around Korea.
Water, the essential part of cleansing dirts off and of making the fabrics of Hanji paper soft but solid, is good in quality. Therefore, Wonju Hanji is strong and durable.
Wonju Hanji was certified by one of Korea’s central government-run quality test authorities as quality paper that is capable of enduring for 700 years up to 1000 years. Besides, Wonju Hanji acquired International Quality Assurance on October 2002.
• is a colorful Hanji of 260 colors.
• uses paper mulberry grown from Wonju.
• is hand-made by veteran artisans.
• is strong, durable but soft.
• is best in keeping its quality constant for 700 years up to 1000 years.
• is capable of adjusting humidity and ventilation.
• is helpful to keep off direct sunlight.