A set of artworks by Jaejudojoa, a group of artists from Jeju Island, are all made of recycled trash dredged up from the island’s surrounding waters. The works are currently on display at the special Junk X User’s Guide exhibition at the National Folk Museum of Korea. (National Folk Museum of Korea)

By Xu Aiying and Sohn JiAe
July 25, 2017 l Seoul

A special exhibition kicked off at the National Folk Museum of Korea on July 19 giving us insight into what trash means to our lives.

The Junk X User’s Guide exhibition raises questions about the ways in which we process our trash. Do we deal with garbage properly? Do we throw away anything that’s valuable, thinking that they’re trash?

“This exhibition shows us how we deal with excessive trash and teaches us that we can use garbage as a resource,” said museum curator Kim Chang-ho.


The National Folk Museum of Korea’s special Trash X User’s Guide exhibition has on exhibit ‘Hapicheop‘ (하피첩, 霞帔帖), an album of calligraphy that Dosan Jeong Yak-yong (정약용, 丁若鏞) (1762-1836) wrote to his son while in exile in 1810. The volume was found in a garbage truck in 2004 by an elderly woman and was later designated as a national treasure in 2010. (Xu Aiying)

The exhibit consists of three sections.

The first section focuses on today’s trash that we generate in a modern society, taking a look at how much garbage is thrown away per day and per week, by an individual and by a four-member family, with the help of visual and physical documents.

The second section walks you through the ways in which garbage can come to life in the form of recycled things.


The Trash X User’s guide exhibition, currently underway at the National Folk Museum of Korea, showcases works of art made from recycled furniture and clothes. (Xu Aiying)

Lastly, in the third section, visual images on the screen bring to light the value of recycling, an act that can make something that is no more useful into “a thing that is urgently needed” by others.

The exhibition continues until Oct. 31, and it’s free of charge.