The Joseon period of Korea was an especially tough time for many citizens across the country. Being born into poverty, Ji-a and her parents lived a life of misery and hardship. Her older brother was killed by enemy soldiers during the Japanese invasions a few years before her birth, and her father was a disgraced government official of the king. Barely able to support their daughter, age 9 at the time, Ji-a’s parents sold her into slavery in hopes of acquiring a decent amount of money to relieve their financial troubles for a short while. Ji-a was taken in by an older kisaeng, the equivalent of a Japanese geisha, and brought to a school, or gwonbeon, where she began her training in the arts and music. By the time Ji-a was 16 she was at the peak of her kisaeng career, and was a skilled musician of the kayagum, or 12-string zither. During this time she meets a former soldier who becomes her gibu, or kisaeng husband, who provides her with protection and economic support. Showered with gifts such as jewelry, dazzling jeogori of many colors, and hair pins Ji-a was a picture of beauty and elegance. Would-be customers of the young kisaeng desired her inquisitive charm and thoughtful intellect, and as a result she caught the eye of one of royal princes, Hong-Chul, who wished to claim her as one of his concubines. He brought her back to the royal palace, where she became familiarized to the royal customs. Not long after her arrival she gives birth to a son, a first-born heir, but because of the illegitimacy of their relationship and Ji-a’s status, their son is denied the rights to the throne at a young age. After the corruption of the current king and his prompt removal from the throne, Hong-Chul ascends to the throne and becomes king. For a short while, Ji-a and her son, Dong-Ju, live a peaceful life in the palace. Dong-Ju however receives harsh discrimination for being the child of a concubine, or a seoja, and suffered harsh social segregation throughout most of his life. The King, Hong-Chul, having grown disdainful towards Ji-a and her son devises a plan to remove both of them from the royal palace. Having overheard his intentions, Ji-a knew she had to do something to save herself and her son. Disguising herself as a palace woman, or gungnyeo, she set up a plan to taint the King’s tea with poison and thus kill him. Sneaking directly into his quarters would result in the discovery of her true identity, so instead she prepared the poisoned tea. By giving the poison tea to another gungnyeo to deliver to the king, Ji-a’s involement in the crime would be seemingly overlooked, and the innocent gungnyeo inadvertently takes the blame for Ji-a’s unlawful act. Before the news of Hong-Chul’s death broke out to those of the palace, and eventually the country, Ji-a and her son escaped. Trading things such as jewelry and other royal items for money, Ji-a and Dong-Ju managed to arrive in Japan, where they resided under new identities and assimilated into the culture to avoid persecution and live in peace.
For my canon character, the use of color, line, and shape were important factors in my design process. For my character’s traditional dress, bright and vibrant colors were often associated with royalty and the upperclass, so to go along with my canon’s story I incorporated pink, yellow, green, and teal into the composition of her dress. Line is used to create the folds in the dress, as well as show movement in the dress’s ribbons, or otgoreum, and jeweled tassel. Shape is used to create the outline of my character’s hair, and gives it a simplistic representation of the traditional kisaeng hair. In addition, shape was a huge influence when it came to creating the “flowy” appearance of my character’s traditional dress, or hanbok. If I was to change anything, I would definitely go back and fix some of my characters poses, and tweak them so that they are more consistent. I used Photoshop to digitally edit the saturation of my colors, as well as eliminate smudges from my colored pencils. In terms of my growth as an artist, I feel that I was able to consistently replicate my character using my canon rule, so that my character was relatively the same height per each pose and fairly easy for someone to duplicate it.