Ulju Oegosan Onggi Festival (울주 외고산 옹기축제)

Context : 

My informant is an adult female who works as a photographer in Korea. She specializes in taking photos and filming festivals around Korea and has been working in the photography industry for 7 years. Here, she is describing the Oegosan Onggi (traditional Korean pottery) Festival that is held in Oegonan Onggi Village of Ulsan, South Korea. She attended this festival in 2009 and he is identified as Y in the dialogue. This piece was collected over a phone call in Korean and was later translated into English. 

Y : The Oegosan Onggi Festival is a festival that was established to promote the artistry of Korean pottery. Onggi usually refers to a big pottery where people put food inside to mature or ferment it. It’s like a barrel, except that it’s made out of clay. During the festival, it is mostly about experiencing how to make pottery out of clay and have fun with it. Children run around with clay on their hands and faces and everywhere. This one kid tried to put clay on my camera lens so I had to run around to protect my camera too, haha. But anyways, this festival has become one of the key festivals of Ulju, Ulsan area because they became a city that produces most of the pottery products in Korea now. And because a lot of people who have inherited the folk culture started to stop studying it, the festival is meant to raise awareness of the beauty of traditional Korean products. I don’t know the exact percentage of people who are still in the folk industry or the traditional culture industry, but it’s a sad fact that people are just leaving for cities in search of jobs. 

Analysis :

I think this festival was significant in the fact that they have successfully made traditional Korean pottery as a tourist and a festival product rather than using food. This shows that the local area has great pride in making Onggi and even successfully established a village for craftsmen who produce onggi masterpieces. While onggi is not used in most regular Korean households, restaurants who put great emphasis on traditions still use those potteries of fermentation of food such as kimchi or soy bean paste. This also indicates that there are less and less people who try to preserve the traditional and folk culture of local areas.