Making traditional Han Yak medicine is very labor intensive. It requires a lot of effort, watching it, praying over it, praying for the sick person the medicine is intended for, making sure it doesn’t burn as it’s cooking, etc. Traditionally, it was mothers who did all this work, preparing the medicine for their loved ones, showing selfless love. Because of the rush and busyness of modern life, people in Korea nowadays usually do not prepare their own herbal medicine. They go to shops who do all the work of slowly cooking the herbs and extracting their juice. When Koreans see or smellHan Yak these days, they feel nostalgic for an old way of life that doesn’t exist anymore. In my artwork, I use different but no less painstaking methods to combine these elements of both actual and symbolic healing. I transform traumatic memories, difficult experiences and pain into works of beauty and healing.

I use pins as an anchor and also as a metaphor for the painful memories that stick to us.  We cannot remove them and we cannot ignore them.  The pain is difficult, but it makes us beautiful and stronger.  All of us have struggles.  As long as we are alive and breathing in the world, we will experience pain.  We have to embrace those painful memories to make our lives better than they were before.  Beauty truly can come from pain.