A Visit to the House of Unbo 운보의 집
The House of Unbo is a beautiful traditional Korean house and the home of one of Korea’s most celebrated painters of the 20th century. The house offers a great look into how the painter lived, but even if you aren’t interested in art, you will definitely enjoy a visit to the House of Unbo in Cheongju.
Basic Information about The House of Unbo
Address: 92-41 Hyeongdong 2-gil, Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea
Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM Tuesday to Friday, 9:30 AM – 6 PM Saturday and Sunday, closed on Mondays
Admission: 3,000 KRW
The house and its beautiful courtyard are also featured in various K-dramas, for example:
- Different Dreams (2019)
- Mister Sunshine (2018)
- Healer (2014-15)
- Bride of the Century (2014)
- Basketball (2013)
- The City Hall (2009)
Who was Unbo?
This beautiful house was the home of celebrated artist Unbo Kim Ki Chang (1913 – 2001).
He is one of the leading Korean painters of the 20th century. He was born as Kim Ki Chang on February 18th in Seoul. As a result of typhoid fever, he became deaf at a very young age. In 1946, Unbo married Park Rehyun, also a painter. She is regarded as a pioneer of modern Korean art.
Unbo is especially known for his series of Catholic paintings from the 1950s depicting the life of Jesus as a Korean, wearing hanbok and living in a traditional Korean village – just like Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, for example.
Unbo also created the face of King Sejong printed on the 10,000 won bill per request for the Bank of Korea in 1975.
After his wife died in 1976, Unbo decided to purchase a bit of land in his mother’s hometown and constructed “The House of Unbo.” He lived there until his death in 2001, and his grave also remains on the premises.
The Property at “House of Unbo”
Unbo constructed his house on 89,000㎡ in traditional Korean style, with a large courtyard, different traditional hanok buildings, housing an art gallery, a tea-house, and a ceramic workshop.
There is also a pavilion and a pond in the garden around the main house. The pavilion was used to meet with guests, as well as engage in some of his writing. It is also said that Unbo enjoyed feeding the carps in his pond.
Highlights Inside the House of Unbo
What I loved most about the House of Unbo were the beautifully decorated rooms inside the home. There was only a hand full of other visitors on the day my husband and I came to the house, which allowed us to explore the different rooms mostly by ourselves.
My husband actually had the chance to meet Unbo in person before his death in 2001 after winning a painting competition in elementary school. He recognized Unbo’s walking cane in the painter’s atelier, leaning next to a chair in the center of the room.
When exploring the individual rooms of the House of Unbo, you really feel a connection to the owner of the house. There are personal items on display in every room, and some of the rooms even feel completely untouched.
The Life of Christ
The 30 paintings part of his series “The Life of Christ” are among Unbo’s most significant works.
In this series, he combined the traditional iconography of European biblical paintings with traditional Korean culture. Unbo took popular depictions of Jesus Christ from the Middle Ages and recreated them in his own style, reflecting the culture and appearances of people of the time in which he lived.
This means you’ll see Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his Apostoles in hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) walking through a traditional Korean village with hanok-style houses.
He painted this series of 30 paintings depicting scenes like the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension in East Asian style during the Korean War in 1952.
You can see most of these works at the House of Unbo in Cheongju in the basement gallery of the house.
Unbo Art Gallery
Behind the house, there is a larger white building, the Unbo Art Gallery. This exhibition space was established after the death of Unbo in 2001. It is divided into three exhibition halls, a data room, a video room, an office, and a storage room.
Besides some of Unbo’s most prominent works, the gallery also displays works of his painter wife Park Rehyeon and his painter brother Kim Kiman who lives in North Korea.
The gallery honors the life of Master Unbo and gives inspiration to those aspiring to become painters.
Come and visit the House of Unbo!
As you can see, the House of Unbo is a beautiful place for a day trip. Art enthusiasts and those who don’t know much about paintings will equally enjoy a visit at this stunning property.
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