Han Young Gu calligrapher

 55 years devoted solely to calligraphy

Han Young Gu
(pen name: Simcheon)

This hand-drawn map shows ‘Gyeongju Munhwa-eui Geori’ (Gyeongju Street of Culture) presented in the newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun on August 29, 1987. It’s quite a bit different from the newspapers of 2011 with their brilliant graphics, isn’t it? The world is changing so rapidly in ways like that, but the Simcheon Studio (심천서실) stays right in the same location shown on the map, in front of the Gyeongju courthouse. At that time, the article said: “When visiting this street, other famous spots that should not be missed are Simcheon Studio  and Nanjeong calligraphy studio (난정필방), where Mr. Han Young Gu (whose sobriquet is Simcheon) has devoted himself to calligraphy for thirty years, and where he fosters his students.” Today, many years since that time, the Simcheon studio’s building has aged, and the esteemed master Han Young-gu (Simcheon) has passed the age of seventy. But, the depth of his calligraphy has deepened with the passing of time. I visited the calligrapher together with my friend Michael, who wanted to learn calligraphy from Mr. Han.

  靜坐觀心 (Jeong-gwa-gwan-shim 
Sitting quietly, seeing the mind
  辛卯花辰 (Sin-myo-hwa-sin)   
When the flowers bloom in the sinmyo year (the sexagency cycle)

"Master, what is a good work of calligraphy?”
"It is one which gives the viewer a feeling of beauty."

  山高水長 (San-go-su-jang

Mountain high, river long

For Michael, who wanted to learn calligraphy,
Master Han suggested four relatively easy characters

The style of the script shown here is seal script style (jeon-seochae, 篆書體)

The moment Michael’s first work of calligraphy began to take shape

Michael’s very first completed work of calligraphy in his whole life!
Entrusted by the master for safekeeping

  學書奉師難 (Haksa-bongsanan) 

When studying calligraphy, teachers are hard to come by

學書奉師難 (Haksa-bongsanan) 

When passing down calligraphy, learners are hard to come by 

They say that calligraphy is difficult to grasp even after ten years of study. That is to say, one is still a novice after fifteen years. Master Han (Simcheon), now in his 55th year of doing calligraphy, said that even he will not be able to understand calligraphy until after he has done it for another 100 years. In today’s world, where everyone likes to get things done fast, it is not an easy thing to find students. Even more, it is really difficult to meet students with the sort of honorable and upright character that would enable them to properly pass down the art of calligraphy. Still, some five thousand people have learned calligraphy from him over this long period time, and Michael signed up as a student at the Simcheon-seosil calligraphy studio.


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