The British Museum Korea

The Korean Sarangbang at The British Museum

This is a recording of a three minute improvised soundscape story that concluded our one hour sensory workshop for adults with learning difficulties. The participants created short soundscapes, stories and a poem. Led in collaboration with the lead Curator of the Korea collection, Eleanor Hyun.

The workshop was an introduction to the Korean Sarangbang which is a mans room in a traditional korean house, inspired by Confucian principles.


Sarangbang relaxed workshop

Exploring the concept of the outside and inside of the Korean Sarangbang & nature connecting with the inner life (jen & Li) of humans to help live a good life.

  • The Sarangbang building (simple materials and clean lines, under floor heating, door frame lattice, door paper, low ceilings)
  • Man & Confucius (who the room was for (to be explored in the next section)
  • The seasons, flowers & birds (The Four Gentlemen, Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo & chrysanthemum).
  • Bird & Flower paintings.
Sounds Wind for cold winter.

Korean Birds.

I will record the participants doing the soundscapes of summer and winter.

Sensory objects Hot & cold pads. Bamboo. Bird & flower scroll paintings. Door paper. Smells of flowers. Paper fans.
Activity Create cold winter and hot summer soundscapes

For summer participants can:

  • Blow hot air on their hands.
  • Hold a heat pad.
  • Smell summer flowers.
  • Look at summer bird and flower paintings.
  • Make bird sounds.
  • Open the windows of the Sarangbang to let the summer heat in.
  • Feel the summer bamboo.

For winter participants can:

  • Blow (fast) cold air on their hands and each other.
  • Hold the cold pad.
  • Look at winter bird and flower paintings.
  • Listen to the sound of the wind from the speaker.
  • Close the Sarangbang doors to keep the heat in.
  • Sit on the floor & imagine the underfloor heating and hold the hot pad. Look to the house in the case on the left showing the underfloor heating system.
Focus Rituals

  • Objects, tools and seasonal art scrolls on the walls of the Sarangbang.
  • Traditional Korean music.
  • Tea drinking ritual and a gathering of society.
  • Sleeping.
Sounds  Traditional Korean folk music. ‘Kayagum sanjo’ (sanjo means scattered melodies)
Sensory objects Tea pot & cups. Scroll paintings.
Activity  Act out a tea party with the Korean music playing from the speaker.

Participants can:

  • Sit on the floor if appropriate.
  • Pretend to pour and drink tea.
  • Move their bodies to the music.
  • Make chatter exploring the 5 moral rules of society.
  1. Closeness between parents & children 
  2. Loyalty between king & vassals
  3. Differentiation husband & wife
  4. Trust between friends 
  5. Order between adults and children
  • Pretend to read a scholarly book.
  • Go to sleep on the floor bed.
Focus Creativity

The Four Treasures “The four jewels of the study: Brush, Ink, Paper, Inkstone.”

We will create a poem & painting (imaginary or on paper if appropriate) 

Sounds  We will create our own poetry. I do have some traditional instrument sounds that we may use to sing or recite our poetry to, if appropriate. 
Sensory objects Paint brushes, pencils, pens. Paper. Inkstand (stone)
Activity  Combing our knowledge from the first two sections (nature and moral the 5 moral values: loyalty, trust, order, closeness and differentiation) we will create a poem that expresses the connection between humans and nature. We will look out of the Lattice window of The British museum and be inspired by the trees opposite. 

Participants can:

  • Have a helper brush the hair of the paintbrush against their skin
  • Use the hot and cold pads as we recite our poem relating to the seasons
  • Smell the flowers
  • Do imaginary finger painting in the air
To finish I will story tell our journey form the beginning and we can record the sounds of:

  • Seasonal soundscapes
  • Korean tea party with traditional music.
  • Reciting our poetry.

If there is time we can listen to our recording.

  1. Hot & cold pads. 
  2. Bamboo. 
  3. Bird & flower scroll paintings. 
  4. Door paper. 
  5. Smells of flowers. 
  6. Paper fans.
  7. Tea pot & cups. 
  8. Paint brushes, 
  9. pencils, pens. Paper.
  10. Inkstand (stone)