Korean seal – 도장

In such a modern and highly digitalized country like Korea, there is one traditional “analogue” item, which Korean people still carry with them now a days: their seal – 도장 (dojang).

I’m not talking about governor or authority, but normal private individuals. Almost all of them own a seal with their name on it. This is still used in banking transactions, opening bank account, applying for credit cards, or also buying immobility. I’ve read also, that Korean Banks only accept the seal as legal authority. That’s one of the reasons, why Korean people still carry it with them.

Another reason is, for Korean, the seal also shows the identity and social status of the owner. Rich or people with high social level usually own a seal made from expensive and valuable material, such as jade, gold or silver. Some would have it well designed with a special head part. Normal people use seal made from stone, wood, or also plastic.

Some people also believe, that the seal would protect them from bad things and carry them as an amulet.

During the weekend, I’d had a chance to join the “Seal making” course, organized by the Seoul Cultural Center, to learn about this tradition and make my own Korean seal.

Here is all you need to make your own seal: a piece of stone, a carrier, an engraving cutter, a glove, paper, a pen and of course someone to show you how to make it.

At first, you’ll have to make a draft of the seal surface. Name on Korean seal is usually written in four squares, from right to left, top down. Using the transparent paper piece, you can flip the design and copy it to the seal surface. Then use the cutter, carefully piece by piece, to engrave your seal.

After two hard working hours, here is my result:

Not bad for the first try, isn’t it?

I could not feel my fingers afterward, but was satisfied with my seal. I think, it represents a bit from myself: plain, straightforward and hard, has here and there some quirks, but behind of it, it was a lot of work.

Many thanks to Seoul Global Center for this cool lesson!

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