Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World

11 Jul 2012 – 8 Sep 2012

Regular hours

10:00 – 17:30
10:00 – 17:30
10:00 – 17:30
10:00 – 17:30
10:00 – 17:30

Cost of entry

admission free

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Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK)

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Nearest tube: Charing Cross or Embankment
  • Charing Cross
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Event map

Korea's extraordinary send-offs of ordinary people and creations of anonymous artisans of the past.


The Korean Cultural Centre UK presents ‘Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World' in association with the Kokdu Museum, Korea. From 11 July 2012 to 8 September 2012, the Exhibition Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the Journey to the Other World features a collection of decorated wooden figurines from the late 19th and early 20th century. These figures, the Kokdu were used across Korea in towns and villages to decorate funeral biers and accompany one on their journey to the other side. The Kokdu are unique as they present a wonderful insight into the way Korea traditionally celebrated life, death and one's passing. The Kokdu Museum of Korea has collected nearly 20,000 figures from across the peninsula and a selection of the very best will be shown here in the UK for the very first time. The fifty wooden figures, including magnificent multi-level biers of the late Joseon Dynasty were created by anonymous artisans of the past and made for ordinary people. The Kokdu figurines accompanied the individual to their final resting place, spiritually preparing them for their journey to the other side by offering guidance, protection, care and entertainment. The Kokdu stand on the boundary between this world and the world beyond, their ambiguous position presents both sides of the world in contrast. Thus, such peculiar aesthetics and techniques were used to express a sense of complexity that results in the unrefined touch, unbalanced ratio and strong sense of simplification and exaggeration that each figure has. With their bright colours, gaiety and laughter the Kokdu explore both Korea's optimism towards life as well as a unique aspect of Korean folklore. For the first time in the UK a traditional Korean Funeral Bier, the Sangyeo, will also be exhibited. Made to be carried by 24 men, this magnificent structure will reveal the role each of the Kokdu when one makes their final journey.

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