Mark and his partner have been excited about their housewarming gift for us since before we even looked at any homes. We went out for dinner a few nights back and they brought a bag.

We opened it and found this lovely platter.


“We were told it was Korean,” Mark said.

Good Man looked at the back and shrugged. He couldn’t read the Chinese characters, so he trotted off to do research. Indeed, they read “Korean Porcelain/Chinaware.”

Korean Porcelain

Then they pulled out a box. We started unwrapping dish after dish. Mark laughed, “We found these at an estate sale and thought they’d be great for Korean food.”

Dish After Dish

When we’d admired the complete set, his partner said, “We have more in the car.”


We took the boxes to the house, stashed them in the basement, and waited until we had some time to put them away. I held two shelves clear for the dishes and started unpacking.

I was delighted to find that some of the plates were actually painted on the back as well.

Back Detail

I unpacked and unpacked and unpacked. I was balancing plates, bowls, cups, and lids on every available surface. I found another platter in red.

Bowls and Lids

Plates and Saucers

Plates on a Stool

Plates Balancing on a Bucket

Bowls and Cups

Both Platters

It seemed like every times I unwrapped a dish, I found another dish in another size. Finally, I was left with a mountain of trash, and the realization that two shelves were not going to be enough.


Eighty-three dishes later (!), I had found a good way to use the strangely-shaped corner cabinets in our kitchen.

I can’t wait to invite them over for some Korean food. We’ll finally have enough dishes for all of the banchan!


10 thoughts on “Dished

    • Aren’t they? Mark and his partner always find amazing things at estate sales and in thrift shops.

      I tend to find junk!

  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE all the animals! They’re so charming! I haven’t seen anything like this in my (somewhat superficial, but not entirely) meanderings through Korean culture and artifacts. I mean, the colors and the pattern aren’t like anything I’ve seen before in terms of traditional pottery or tableware. But they’re so great, and beautifully done. And those little turtle chopstick rests and the covered rice bowls–! So adorable.

    • I agree with you. The dishes are unusual.

      I need to sit down and count the animals. The deer and turtle and some of the trees remind me of my (expensive) wooden dojang (name stamp), which I bought in Insadong. It’s supposed to have all of these traditional longevity animals. I think the dishes might, too.

      I loaded a bunch of photos of temple eaves in Sherwin-Williams paint finder recently. The colors DO remind me of the bright colors used on the temples and palaces!

  2. The colors, patterns, and the design don’t seem Korean at all. I don’t ever recall seeing anything like that in my extended Korean families treasures, in my visits to Korea, nor in any Korean shops! Korean pottery and ceramics are usually without color!

    • Do they have to look like traditional Korean dishes to be a great gift? I don’t think these are antique dishes or anything like that. They’re obviously modern dishes.

      Maybe my caption of “Korean Porcelain” is throwing people off. That’s just what the Hanja says. The back of the dishes read: Korean Porcelain and Royal Palace Pattern (or something like that). They could be Chinese interpretations of Korean dishes. Who knows?

      Modern Korean dishes certainly do use color. They often have roses or flowers painted on them. I can walk into HMart, find a colorful dish, flip it over and find “Korea” stamped on the back. When I bought my cooking chopsticks in Korea, the store had a ton of different dish patterns there.

      And of course, Koreans now use dishes produced from all over the world. I remember the first time I ate dinner at Master’s house and saw that he had the same Corelle pattern dishes I grew up with (Blue Onion, for the record)! Mother’s chopstick holders are colorful and made in China.

      As I said, the plants and animals do remind me of things I’ve seen in paintings and embroidery and the colors definitely remind me of the colors on eves of temples and palaces. I love the riot of color on these plates because it makes me think of those things. (And let’s face it: Good Man and I are not decorators with color schemes. The first floor of our house alone has four different wall colors. I love color.)

      The awesome happy accident is that we bought our dining room paint before we even closed on the house and the dining room is going to be two shades of blue! The dishes have lots of blue in them and are going to look great. Mark and his partner didn’t know that when they bought them before we even looked at houses.

      I don’t really care if they’re traditional or not. What I love is that a) they’re gorgeous, b) we’re finally going to have (more than) enough dishes for when we eat Korean food, and c) it’s a really thoughtful gift, since the givers know how we struggle to find enough dishes when we eat Korean meals with friends.

  3. My post was misleading in its tone. I think you are reacting to the unintended tone.

    I think they are wonderful gifts, very thoughtful, and useful! I was just taken aback on how non-Korean they looked to me while they are actually Korean!

    • My apologies for reading a tone that wasn’t there. While I was writing my response, I kept trying to temper my own tone.

      But then I started thinking of the really pretty blue-green celadon dishes and that got me thinking about how if we had those, we’d have to have napkins to match, and that got me going off about color schemes and the like, and that reminded me of how some people have really plain dishes, others modern, others traditional, and that reminded me of Master’s dishes being like my mom’s dishes, and then I just couldn’t stop typing.

      Anyhow, I do agree, they are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Korea. Oooh, maybe they’re really from Malaysia (or any other random Asian country) or something and are part of Hallyu. Ha ha ha!

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