Books on traditional culture

100 years ago, Homer B Hulbert and James Scarth Gale translated and published “Eerie Tales from Old Korea”, a collection of Korean ghost stories. Now Brother Anthony of Taize has handpicked some of those tales, and Seoul Selection has republished them to celebrate the 150th birthdays of Gale and Hulbert. It’s definitely going on to […]

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Book review: Land of Scholars (Kang Jae-eun)

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2011
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The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of Korean Confucianism by Kang Jae-eun (translated from Japanese to Korean by Ha Woo-bong, then from Korean into English by Suzanne Lee) Homa & Sekey Books 2006; original Japanese version published in 2003. 515 pp Students of Korean history, and particularly of the Joseon dynasty, will inevitably at […]

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New book on Korean artefacts in Oxford

by Philip Gowman 26 August 2011
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Oxford’s Bodleian Library announces the publication of a new book on historic Korean artefacts in the University’s collections. It accompanies an exhibition which runs 26 August to 26 September 2011 in the Proscholium at the Bodleian Library: Korean Treasures: Rare Books, Manuscripts and Artefacts in the Bodleian Libraries and Museums of Oxford University by Minh […]

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Donguibogam to get English translation

by Philip Gowman 12 March 2011
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The Donguibogam, the encyclopedia of Korean traditional medicine finished by Heo Jun in 1613, finally gets translation (http://bit.ly/ecjgvO #) in prepartation for the 400th anniversary of its publication. “The translation is almost done, and we will soon check the material a final time before publication,” said Shin Gyu-bum, an official at the Ministry of Health […]

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Michael Pettid – Korean Cuisine – an illustrated history

by Philip Gowman 17 April 2009
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A review of a very interesting book about Korean food.

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Words of inspiration

by Jennifer Barclay 24 February 2008
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NO RIVER TO CROSS: Trusting the Enlightenment that’s Always Right There Zen Master Daehaeng Wisdom Publications, Boston US$14.95 The title refers to the idea that you don’t have to make a grand pilgrimage to find your Buddha nature, as it’s already inside you, and this approachable book offers plenty of inspiring thoughts. It starts with […]

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J Scott Burgeson: Korea Bug

by Philip Gowman 11 August 2007
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(Eunhaeng Namu, Seoul, 2005) A recent article in the JoongAng daily about a foreigner in Seoul who hasn’t made himself popular with hypersensitive and volatile Korean netizens introduced me to a gem. Burgeson, a foreigner who has been in Seoul since 1996 is one of the more unusual expats out there in that he takes […]

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Lee O-young (tr John Holstein) – Things Korean

by Philip Gowman 17 April 2006

(Tuttle 1999) A lovely coffee table book with beautiful images with descriptions. Though I think that if I were a woman I would be bristling at times about the author’s nostalgia for the times when a woman concerned herself with womanly things.

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Marshall R. Pihl: The Korean Singer of Tales

by Philip Gowman 17 April 2006

(Harvard 1994) Read this before watching Im Kwon-Taek’s Sopyonje. It’s a useful introduction to Pansori styles and rhythms, and contains a translation of the Shimchong-ga, the story of Blind Man Shim and his filial daughter. A number of excerpts from this story is performed in the film and it helps to know the story a […]

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Jeon Jemin, ed Kevin O’Rourke: Korean Stories

by Philip Gowman 17 April 2006

(Eul & Al, 2004) A strange collection. Confucian stories, Buddhist stories, and some essays which though brief remind you of the disjointed ramblings of a genial but slightly senile grandfather. One of the essays does explain, though, why the bedwetting boy in one of the short films in the collection If you were me is […]

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