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Kim Ha-jong, , «Album of Haesandocheop», 1816, Silk Fabric, National Museum of Korea 


Mt. Geumgang is a famous Korean mountain everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime. Known for its beautiful scenery all year round, it is called by different names as the seasons turn, i.e. Phungaksan (“hill of colored leaves” in autumn), Kaegolsan (“stone bone mountain” in winter), and Pongraesan (“place where a Spirit dwells” in summer). It was a Buddhist sanctuary during the Goryeo Dynasty, and a pilgrimage destination for painters during Joseon Dynasty. For many, it was a “wish of a lifetime” to visit it, but travelling to it was difficult and costly. As time passed, painters like Gyeomjae Jeong Seon, Kim Yoon-gyeom (1711~1775), and Kim Hong-do (1745~1806) were commissioned by sponsors to paint Mt. Geumgang. Kim Ha-jong’s «Album of Haesandocheop» comprised of 25 paintings, is particularly noteworthy. While somewhat influenced by Jung Seon and Kim Hong-do in materials used and painting style, it is a unique personal expression of the scenic beauty of Mt. Geumgang. Quick, angular lines were used to portray the contours of rocks, boulders, and mountains, emphasizing their geological features, and shades of black india ink and bluish green color were effectively controlled to add color. The coloring method of adding the bluish green dye to the black ink, in particular, put life and energy into the painting. It can be said that the paintings are an artistic product of sponsor Lee Gwang-mun’s regard for realistic painting style and the 24-year old Kim Ha-jong’s individuality.