Hassla Art World in Jeongdongjin, South Korea, where we spend two nights in the museum, see a cool Pinocchio exhibition and immerse ourselves in art
Hassla Art World is a unique art museum which offer guests an opportunity to stay in a modern and comfortable museum-hotel with stunning views of the East Sea.
We chose to stay in this museum-hotel because of a wonderful experience that we had years ago, while staying in another art museum hotel, in Naoshima Island, Japan.
I was afraid to have high expectations when we booked the hotel at the Hassla Art World.
I was afraid to be disappointed that the experience here will not match the fabulous experience that we had in Naoshima.
But the minute we entered the beautiful Museum full of funky art, I felt my worries fade away.
The museum sits on a large forested hill overlooking the sea, and it features a few exhibition spaces, a restaurant, an outdoor cafe, and a sculpture garden that is divided into a few themes.
The owner of Hassla, Choi Okyungis, is a sculptor with big dreams.
He and his wife, Park Shinjung, who is also a sculptor, started with only the outdoor sculpture garden more than ten years ago.
They added the museum hotel in recent years.
He is a professor, teaching fine art and sculpture in the university.
His wife used to be a professor too, but she resigned in order to devote more time to the increasingly demanding, busy operation of the museum.
We noticed that the parking lot was full of visitors, and we were happy to hear that the hotel was full that weekend.
This means that many people made their way from the cities to this remote location, to appreciate the art and to enjoy this creative space.
The owners do deserve all the recognition that they get, for all the hard work that they have done, and that still goes into this project.
The owner is a humble handsome artist with long hair.
He has a good sense of humor, a vast creative spirit, and a down to earth attitude.
He seems to be the kind of artist who is not allured by brand names, prestige and glitz.
When we were invited to walked around his property with him, we passed a Ferrari, and other luxury cars that were parked in the parking lot.
He pointed to a rusty pickup truck at the end of the parking lot, and said with pride: “This is MY car” and then he shrugged his shoulders and laughed, which I sensed was a mixture of: “I do not give a damn what other people think of me….” and: “I do not gain pleasure from owning a heap of expensive metal and rubber, which is brainwashed by marketers as ‘luxury’ for those who do not know what luxury is…”
He wore outdoors clothes which were speckled with clay and mud, and when he introduced himself to us, he said that he was just a worker, making roads, paving pathways, moving rocks and trimming intruding tree branches.
His artwork is wonderful, and he seem to be a gentle and powerful man with BIG dreams.
His wife who is a sweet woman with sensitive kind eyes, did not boast of being an artist.
She said that she was just a woman, married to a creative artist who has big dreams that she feels the need to support.
The scale of the hotel is massive.
It does not have more than a few dozen rooms, but the main halls and the exhibition galleries are very large with very high ceilings.
The structure of the hotel was built from steel, concrete and colorful glass, and the large open spaces felt expansive and luxurious.
It felt inspiring to be in this space.
The huge over sized hot tubs that are featured in each room almost felt like an overindulgence.
It felt almost wasteful to fill this huge hot tub that could easily fit four people, just to soak my tired leg muscles.
Luckily Jules was in the mood and he joined me in soaking in this large hot tub in our room, which overlooks the sea.
Our hosts were very friendly towards us.
We were the only foreigners staying in the hotel that weekend, and Eunice, who was the restaurant manager and in charge of hospitality, accommodated all our dietary needs and helped us feel understood and very welcome.
She is a charming woman who lived in Tampa, Florida for six years, where she mastered the English language and studied culinary management.
When we left, she gave me a gift.
It was a box of the lotus leaf tea that I enjoyed in their restaurant.
The owner Choi Okyungis, after hearing that I was also an artist and that we came to Korea to hike the National parks, offered to take us in the afternoon for a long walk on his property to show us his future plans for the place.
It was a lovely sunset hike and we were able to laugh and communicate with a lot of hand signals, a bit of English and a lot of intuitive gestures.
On the top of his property, we had vast views of the sea, and a distant view of a large cruise ship, that was converted into a permanent hotel and which was surreally docked on a mountain overlooking the sea.
Back in the hotel, we saw a cool Pinocchio exhibition with many wooden dolls and puppets.
We walked through small openings into grand spaces, and in each one, a nice surprise waited for us.
It was a real treat.
We also enjoyed an exhibition of “luxury” brand name bags, all made from metal, stone or granite.
The use of metal chains reminded me of how we are shackled to illusions…. How our culturally shared minds, programmed to adore high prices and admire brand names, believe that high prices equal quality and luxury.
In reality, all our cravings, and everything that we strongly desire and believe that might add something to our lives, only serve to tie us closer to illusions and keep the Truth hidden from our eyes.
We are in need of nothing but the Truth, yet we spend our lives working to acquire things that have no lasting value.
Instead of expanding our horizons, cultivating compassion and a forgiving heart, we crave success and constantly seek to improve our physical circumstances.
Some of us seek the Truth, because we KNOW that all the things of this earth times a hundred thousand will not bring us true happiness.
Because there is a craving in our hearts that will not stop, until we remember who we truly are and until Enlightenment and Nirvana is our normal state of mind….