Ceramic artist remembered as resuscitator of Koryo celadon

December 7, 2022

U Chi Son, well known as the “king of Koryo celadon”, is a ceramist who perfected the Koryo celadon inlaying technique peculiar to Korea for over 70 years. 

He started his career as a ceramic craftsman at the age of 13 and worked at the Songnim ceramic factory and the Kaesong Koryo ceramic factory during Japanese military rule over Korea. After the country’s liberation in 1945, he became the manager of the Nampho ceramic factory and produced pottery needed for people’s daily life after rebuilding the factory which the Japanese had destroyed as they fled the country. 

His study into Koryo celadon entered an intensive phase in the postwar period.  Working as chief of the preparation section of the Songyo ceramic factory from 1955, he conducted research on Koryo celadon in order to restore its making technique. He exerted a great deal of effort into creating fine pieces of porcelain from the early 1960s and brought out his first work “Celadon pot with chrysanthemum motif” in 1964. Later, he put on show many of his ceramic works, including “Persimmon relief-pattern vase” (1971), “Flower vase inlaid with sunflower motif” (1978) and “Flower vase with motifs of Pyongyang’s scenery” (1980). 

U became a member of the ceramics production unit at the Mansudae Art Studio in 1981 and created numerous excellent ceramic works which were loved by the people. 

For their elegant and beautiful tones of colour, refined shapes and unique decorative techniques, his works are regarded as priceless treasures not just in the DPRK but in China, Japan and many other countries of the world. 

Thanks to his untiring zeal for creation, the art of Koryo celadon which had disappeared for more than 700 years came back to life to enjoy worldwide popularity as one of the best artefacts in the world history of ceramic art. 

Chairman Kim Jong Il appreciated U’s works on several occasions and praised him as a man of talent who made a huge contribution to the development of Koryo celadon. 

The Kim Il Sung Prize laureate and People’s Artist died at the age of 84.

His sons followed in his footsteps and took up the art of celadon making. 


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