History

Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016, 3pm. Not far away from Songsan-ri is the fortress of Gongsanseong. It clings to the banks of the Geumgang river (nothing to do with Mount Geumgang in north Gangwondo) and its walls scale the cliffs and meanders along the contours of the hill, forming a 2.6km circuit which climbs to […]

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2016 travel diary 6: Gongju’s royal tombs

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016, 2:15pm. The Royal Tombs in Songsan-ri Our first stop in Gongju is the set of seven or more tombs in Songsan-ri. The experts think there may be as many as ten tombs in the area. It seems odd, in an age when so much in the way of sophisticated electronics […]

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2016 travel diary 5: An introduction to the Baekje Historic Areas

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016 The kingdom of Baekje had its beginnings as a small state founded on the south banks of the Han River in 18 BCE by King Onjo. The people were largely of Buyeo origins – an early kingdom absorbed into Goguryeo. The kingdom gradually grew, absorbing the small Mahan states to […]

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2016 travel diary 3: Seoul’s Fortress Walls, and genre painting at the DDP

by Philip Gowman 15 May 2016
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Jongno, Seoul, Sunday 15 May 2016. The time lag has caught up with me. My intention this morning had been to go along to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza to visit the exhibition of Joseon dynasty genre paintings from the Kansong museum before joining the RASKB for a walk along the eastern sections of Seoul’s fortress […]

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A way to make sure you never have enough time in Korea

by Philip Gowman 29 April 2016
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I’ve just discovered a great way to help plan a trip to a particular part of Korea to make sure you get maximum value from your time in the area. Go to the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) website, go to Heritage Info, and then General Search. In the search form, select the Location (province or […]

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Lee Joon-ik’s The Throne: a familiar tale made a believable tragedy

by Philip Gowman 22 April 2016
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The first of the KCCUK’s “Teaser Screenings” for the London Korean Film Festival 2016 took place on Monday in the presence of Director Lee Joon-ik and the recently-arrived Korean ambassador. The chosen film was The Throne (사도) – a movie which was #5 in the 2015 Korean box office and deals with an incident in […]

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Double book review: two takes on Shin Sang-ok

by Philip Gowman 8 January 2016
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Paul Fischer: A Kim Jong-il Production Penguin / Viking 2015, 353pp Steven Chung: Split Screen Korea – Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema University of Minnesota Press 2014, 262pp The story of actress Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok combines elements of both romance and thriller as well as representing important phases in the history of film […]

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Book review: Kim Namcheon – Scenes from the Enlightenment

by Philip Gowman 11 December 2015
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Kim Namcheon — Scenes from the Enlightenment Translated by Charles La Shure Dalkey Archive, 2014, 254pp orignally published as 대하, Inmunsa 1939. A brief review, because this is a book I never finished. The blurb on the back of the book sums the contents up well: An account of seemingly trivial events – a wedding […]

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Book Review: Cho Chongnae — How in Heaven’s Name

by Philip Gowman 4 December 2015
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Cho Chongnae: How in Heaven’s Name Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton Merwin Asia, 2012, 141 pages. Originally published as 오 하느님 (O God) and renamed 사람의 탈 (Human Mask) How in Heaven’s Name is an appropriate title for the mind-boggling story of how a group of Korean country lads came to be fighting in […]

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Conference news: Conceptions of ‘Life’ and ‘Nature’ in Classical Discourses

by Philip Gowman 8 October 2015
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SOAS’s Centre of Korean Studies is presenting a one-day conference tomorrow. The event is free and open to the public – no booking is required. Conceptions of ‘Life’ and ‘Nature’ in Classical Discourses 9 October 2015, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm Venue: 21/22 Russell Square Room: T101 and T102 Programme Presentations in Korean will be […]

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In Korea, historical grievances last down the generations

by Philip Gowman 25 September 2015
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Today’s Korea Times article, Man fined for obstructing ancestral rite, is nicely timed to ensure good behaviour over the Chuseok period. But the ancestral rite Mr Kim disrupted was not any old rite. This is a family grievance that goes back to 1453 and the reign of King Sejo: The court said Kim got into […]

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Film Review: Korean Undertaker and Not One of the Forgotten

by Philip Gowman 27 July 2015
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For about four years Bona Shin of Theatre for All has been getting to know some of the British veterans from Korean War, particularly those based in the Virginia Water area; and as she got to know them she decided to collect some of their memories and preserve them in documentary form. The resulting two […]

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Korea Post honours the Glosters

by Philip Gowman 5 July 2015
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Lt Col James Power Carne of the Gloucestershire Regiment appears on a new Korean postage stamp, part of a set of ten issued to mark the 65th anniversary of the start of the war. The BBC regional website for Gloucestershire has the full story.

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Press preview: Two Korean War documentaries

by Philip Gowman 21 June 2015
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For a while now Theatre for All have been working with British Korean War veterans, gathering their memories. Some of the fruits of their labours will be revealed this Thursday, the 65th anniversary of the start of the war, in a press preview in Kingston. You can register for the screenings at Eventbrite. Premiere screenings: […]

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Comfort Women: Listening To Their Voices — free screenings and discussion in Sheffield

by Philip Gowman 13 June 2015
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A series of documentary screenings and discussions on the subject of Comfort Women, spread over Friday evening and Saturday. Director Byun Young-joo will be present to discuss her work – the first two documentaries of her 낮은 목소리 trilogy will be screening. Director Kim Dong-won will also be present. Korean Cinema Stories: Comfort Women — […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 10: Namhansanseong and the Gangnam Tombs

by Philip Gowman 7 June 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Sunday 7 June The Mountain Fortress I am scheduled to meet a friend at 9:30 at Sanseong Station on Line 8. From there we take the bus (number 9) via a circuitous route through a residential area and up the steep hill to the main car park of one of Korea’s latest UNESCO […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 9: Yeongsanjae and Seodaemun

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Saturday 6 June Bongwonsa temple and the Yeongsanjae rituals Today is the second UNESCO-listed item of intangible cultural heritage of my brief stay. I am tagging along with a small group of American summer students who are getting course credits by having a whale of a time in Seoul. How this works from an […]

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