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Inspired by Nature, The Traditional Cosmetics of Korea at Korean Cultural Centre

Home > London > Health and Beauty | Free | Exhibitions
by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
With Mother's Day looming, the best gift you can give your mother is knowledge. Not to mention free traditional Korean cosmetics from the Korean Cultural Centre's exhibition on them.
Pull your girlfriend's chair back, chow down on some Bibimbap and I'll tell you.

In its loFi interactive section, you can create the best gift your mother or girlfriend can have. It comes straight from the heart, which makes it all the more special. The scent extracts, which are Cloves or Zain, mixed with Sunflower, Ricebran or Safflower Oil as a solvent are an excellent introduction to pre-industrial cosmetics, which prempted Anita Roddick by centuries. Not only do you get to make a gift for Mother's Day, you also see how Korean women adorned themselves with really intricate Cheopji and Binyeongs.

The Cheopji was used to decorate a woman's hair parting in ancient Korea, which was often made of Brass and often featured an image of natural world, a Confucian symbol or a religious symbol.

This Cheopji was used to decorate a woman's hair parting.


A Binyeo is an ornamental hairpin, often elaborately decorated with a floral or butterfly motif. What makes it interesting is the symmetry as a recurrent theme, as in the flower or butterfly. Perhaps it is a symbol of the immutable natural order and the woman's place with in it. The overall effect, in combination with the peach coloured make up on aristocratic women, is demure.
Norigae, beloved by Korean women throughout history.


Even very much in keeping with Confucian ideas on modesty, which was expected of everyone, especially women. However, this didn't stop women from adorning themselves, as you can see. Many Korean women treasured their Norigae, a traditional Korean woman's ornament worn on chest or a belt (see photograph).

You can see the exquisite attention to detail in the knot at the top, which shows the symmetry in great detail, along with ornaments that mar reflect a woman's status in society. It would be sad if it was the equivalent of Argos bling, as the great attention to detail would be lost on the Argos customers.

What would have made the exhibition more interesting would be a contrast with the hyper slick female K-pop artists of today, who flash flesh (though not to the extent a Page 3 girl does) because it shows how it evolved from the oil bottles of Goryeo era to the metal cosmetic boxes of theC19th to cosmetic procedures of today. Mind you, the oil bottles are still relevant today. Especially if Mim JongUn comes round for a Molotov Cocktail Party, to which he's invited himself.
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When: From 19 February 2013 to 6 April 2013
Where: 1 - 3 Strand, Ground Floor, Grand Buildings, London, WC2N 5BW
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