Posted : 2008-11-06 17:06
Updated : 2008-11-06 17:06

Korean Smithy Daejanggan

Jeungpyeong daejanggan in a market in Jeungpyeong-eup, Jeungpyeong-gun, in North Chungcheong Province, where Choi Yong-jin, Korea’s first Skill Inheritance Number 1 blacksmith, hammers away with a hot piece of iron.
/ Korea Times Photos by Shim Hyun-chul

By Shim Hyun-chul
Staff Reporter

Beating the red-burned iron repeatedly, the blacksmith shapes the hard and blunt piece of metal, gradually changing its form. He is like a conductor in an orchestra, taking full control of the shop.

Daejanggan (blacksmith's shop) is where iron is heated to make various tools. According to historical records indicating Korea's use of iron for tools, daejanggan was called 'yaroso' in Donggukyeojiseungram ('the View of the Eastern country,' a historical geography book), while the blacksmith was called ''yajang'' in ``Samguk Yusa''('Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms') and ``Kyunggukdaejeon'' (``Code of Laws of the Joseon Kingdom).

Just a decade ago, daejanggan could be easily found. With the industrialization of farming tools and introduction of cheap mass-produced products from China, the daejanggan became obsolete. Only about 10 shops remain.

In Jeungpyeong-eup, Jeungpyeong-gun in North Chungcheong Province, there is a traditional daejanggan run by Choi Yong-jin, Korea's first Skill Inheritance No. 1 in the blacksmithing field. He carries on the traditional method of heating the piece of iron on a cooking stove, hammering it and finally hardening it.

Replicas on display include 200 pieces of tools and utensils; spears, knives, swords, and other weapons; sickles, hoes, and 30 pieces of farming tools, along with various domestic, architectural, and masonry tools. Visitors frequent the site daily and on days when the traditional 5-day market takes place, it's crowded with regular customers.

The most popular tool among domestic and foreign tourists is a replica of a device used in winnowing, a miniature farming tool decorated with a rake, sickle, ax, taffy vendor's scissors, door-ring, and hoe.

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