Gangwon, also known as Kangwon Province, has Chuncheon as its capital city. Before the division of Korea in 1945, this part of South Korea and its North Korean neighbor constituted a single province, as depicted on the map below.
Gangwon Province is bordered to the west by Gyeonggi Province, to the south by the provinces of Chungcheon and Gyeongsan, and to the east by the Sea of Japan. Its northern boundary is demarcated by the Military Demarcation Line, separating it from North Korea’s Gangwŏn Province.
The province’s landscape is predominantly characterized by the Taebaek Mountains, and it was historically one of the less populated areas on the Korean peninsula. This may account for the limited quantity of furniture that exists today, as well as the relative scarcity of diversity in construction and design in traditional Bandaji.
Bandaji from Gangwon Province are relatively easy to identify. The average dimensions are approximately 84cm x 90cm x 40cm. The top, sides, and bottom panels extend all the way to the front, creating a distinctive frame around the front of the bandaji. This characteristic is a common feature on chests from Gangwon Province and is not found on bandaji from other provinces.
The top panel was joined to the side panels using a clearly visible tenon and mortise construction.
Typically, inside the chest, there are three drawers arranged side by side at the top, located just under the top panel. These drawers were designed for storing valuables and small accessories.
The wood used was primarily pine, which comprised the majority of the chest’s construction. In contrast to other regions on the peninsula, the wood was not always stained to a darker color, and the final appearance of the pine could be a light brown, as depicted in some photos.
The hardware displays a wide variety of auspicious motifs. The central hinges, which connect the front opening panel to the bottom panel, consist of two swallowtail-design plates (symbolizing beauty) and one central gourd-shaped plate. The gourd-shaped central hinge symbolizes good health.
The plates under the top pullers are adorned with a bat design, an ancient symbol of good luck. The central lock plate is also crafted with the swallowtail design.
On the lower part of the chest, three large “Rhombic” plates or belly button-style plates are positioned under the central hinges. These plates serve a purely decorative purpose. Similarly, there are small flower-shaped “Gwangdujeong” ornaments, three on each side, which also serve a decorative function.
Other motifs may include the Lotus (symbolizing birth and creation), chrysanthemums (representing a productive and fruitful life), and clouds (in the past, people believed that when they accumulated enough good deeds in this world, they would ascend on clouds to the sky and become a human Buddha in the next world).
Another distinctive design from this province can be observed in a chest with an elongated top panel. In some instances, the front opening did not extend entirely. These bandaji feature limited, simple metalwork designs.
Some bandaji also showcase extended raised top panels with small drawers on the upper front part and an opening panel in the middle. These chests were occasionally constructed with elaborate legs.