Artist ‘instantly sews’ thoughts, feelings into rag dolls

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Jan 15, 2018 - 13:59
  • Updated : Jan 15, 2018 - 13:59

Rag doll maker and artist Moon Jung-whe does more than sew fabric into objects -- she reveals her inner thoughts and feelings through her creations.

Moon, who has created more than 200 rag dolls, calls them “instant dolls.” She came up with the term herself, as the dolls are a way of instantly expressing her feelings, beyond being the execution of intricate art.

“When I went to Hawaii, I made a doll using local fabrics, sketching my impression of the island,” Moon said. “By making the ‘instant dolls,’ I can express what I think and feel, straight from my heart.”

Moon is holding an exhibition at the Backroom Gallery in Hannam-dong, Seoul, where the space, decorated in a living room theme, is filled with Pink-o dolls in various sizes and shades of pink. Not one of them is the same as another, as each is handmade. 

Pink-o dolls represent artist Moon Jung-whe’s liberation. (WTFM)
Pink-o dolls represent artist Moon Jung-whe’s liberation. (WTFM)

“There was a friend in kindergarten who liked the color pink. I liked the color as well, but for some reason, I felt as if I shouldn’t say it,” she said. “That’s how Pink-o was created. It represents my liberation that I will express myself and speak up from now on.”

When making dolls, Moon, who is also a children‘s book author, sometimes creates stories for them, including their names, professions and characteristics. She has even staged a puppet show with the dolls.

Taking it a step further from merely exhibiting her works, Moon is inviting others to join and share her experience. The artist hosted a doll-making workshop for the public Thursday night at the gallery, where all necessary materials were provided along with a glass of wine, pastries and finger foods. 

Eight people make “instant dolls.” (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

“The experience should be joyful. That’s how I work at home, eating delicious foods and listening to music that I love,” she said. “It shouldn’t be done in a solemn and serious atmosphere.”

Eight people, all adults, sat down in front of two big wooden tables in the gallery, ready to stitch ball-shaped ornaments to use as wine bottle decorations.

“The work was mesmerizing. Repeating the process of putting the needle in and pulling it out, all irritating thoughts went away,” one participant at the workshop said.
Eight people make “instant dolls.” (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)
Eight people make “instant dolls.” (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

The class moved on to decorate a rag doll, using paint, crayons and other materials. Each finished doll showcased the maker’s talents and interests. A fashion company employee clothed his doll in stylish attire, while a dog owner paid tribute to her canine friend.
Eight people make “instant dolls.” (Im Eun-byel/The Korea Herald)

“I hope the participants repeat the process at home and continue to instantly express their inner feelings,” Moon said.

The workshop will be held again Thursday. For more information, call (070) 7799-1221 for Backroom Gallery, Hannam-dong, Seoul, or visit the gallery’s website at