▲ Jeju pony dolls on sale and on display at the Gallery Art Link in Insadong. Bottom left, Olle founder Suh Myung Sook stands with Olle volunteers. Photos by Douglas MacDonald
I walked slowly down a narrow hallway, uncertain of where I was going and what I would see. As I rounded a corner and entered a brightly-lit room, I was greeted by a sea of floating horses in a kaleidoscope of colors.
This was my introduction to the “Ganse Inhyeong” or Jeju Pony Dolls exhibit at the Gallery Art Link in Samcheong-dong, northern Insadong in Seoul. The dolls, made by members of the Ganse Gongbang craft centers in the Jeju National Museum in Jeju City and the Jeju Olle #6 trail office in Seogwipo, were on display from March 24 to March 27.
I made my way through the maze of Ganse dolls hanging from the ceiling and was met by Suh Myung Sook, the president of the Jeju Olle Organization. As we walked around the exhibit, she explained to me that life in most of the larger Korean cities today is fast-paced and competitive. In contrast, the Ganse dolls represent the slower, more peaceful pace of life on Jeju Island.
She went on to explain that over the last decade the price of women’s clothing in Korea has dropped by two-thirds, making it easier for women today to buy clothes cheaply, wear them for a short time, and then quickly throw them away as they move on to the latest fashions. Over a million tons of clothes are thrown away every year in Korea. Taking advantage of this waste, the environmentally friendly Ganse dolls are handmade with recycled cloth.
Some of the dolls were made by Korean celebrities and are being sold for 100,000 won. The remaining dolls, made by regular Ganse Gongbang members, sell for 15,000 won. All proceeds go to the Jeju Olle Organization to help improve and maintain Olle walking trails around Jeju.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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