The impression many westerners have of South Korea is of a bustling, tech-focused economic powerhouse. Exploring the island of Jeju earlier this year helped me get past that stereotype, especially when I stumbled upon Hee Jin’s workshop in Jeju City.
Eucalyptus imparts subtle earth and sky tones, beautifully rendered in this organically dyed silk scarf.
It turns out that the island of Jeju, located in the far south of the country and much better known for its sea-diving women, also has its own long established variation on traditional Korean clothing. The local version, called garot or galjungi, is dyed using natural materials, especially unripe persimmon pulp that impart shades of brown. The pulp actually strengthens the rugged, traditional cotton work clothes as well as everyday dress.
The delicately woven organically dyed wool scarf gets its sunset colors from tree bark and marigolds.
Hee Jin and her mother-in-law sew and quilt clothing that they then hand-dye using a range of organic materials, many raised on their family farm where the cash crop is tangerines. When Hee Jin showed me some of the scarves they’ve created, I knew I wanted to share them with Sympatico fans back home. The Jeju Scarf Collection is the result.
The natural dyes Hee Jin uses in her workshop largely come from her family’s farm on the island of Jeju.
Translating the specific natural substances that Hee Jin named proved to be a bit of a stretch for Google, so my descriptions are based on the information I was able to glean. What was evident, language challenge aside, was the beauty of the work. Each scarf is one of a kind, so if one appeals to you, I recommend you order soon.