In 1876, the Joseon Dynasty opened its doors to the world. Ceasing the moment to sail past Joseon’s closed-door policy, the Western Powers eagerly landed on shore. Those who visited Joseon during this period each harbored their own ideologies and aspirations, led by a sense of obligation. Naturally, the descriptions they produced varied in accordance with their differing perspectives.
In their eyes, Joseon appeared to be a most intriguing society. The natural environment was beautiful, and the people were living in harmony with the ecology. Certain perspectives bore a more critical tone, misled by beliefs in Western superiority and misinformation. Others, meanwhile, endeavored to present Joseon to the world based on cultural relativism, ready to accept and embrace difference.
The documentations, photographs, and moving images they left behind contain detailed portraitures of Korea’s past. Also, they offer a wide spectrum of Joseon’s tumultuous history, including the Imperial family’s attempt to declare the country’s independent agency and actively adopt new cultural tides. In particular, we can witness the last moments of Joseon’s traditional hat culture through many records that commend the originality and uniqueness of the head-ornaments in Joseon.
This exhibition marks the Coreana Cosmetics Museum’s 23rd special exhibition. Its objective is to showcase modern Joseon’s culture through relics that capture Joseon’s turbulent modernity, along with records left by foreigners who visited during the period between the open-port declaration and Joseon’s emancipation. The exhibition will serve as an opportunity to encounter aspects of culture that we have remained unaware of, or have forgotten.
Supported by Coreana Cosmetics, Co., Ltd.