Heritage

Nothing prepared you for the sight that greeted you when you entered the room containing the Korean crafts at Tent London. As you were wandering past the various stalls in the main part of the exhibition displaying contemporary crafts from around the world on your way to the “Constancy and Change” room, you might have […]

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Latest UNESCO listings break the stereotypes

by Philip Gowman 19 July 2014
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A famine-ridden state that spends all its money on its army and its nukes; and a country that builds a green city and restores its rivers… Those are the stereotypes. Yet it’s the North that has just had a biosphere reserve registered at UNESCO, while the South’s latest registration is an impressive piece of military […]

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Namhansanseong joins Suwon fortress on UNESCO World Heritage list

by Philip Gowman 30 June 2014
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South Korea’s eleventh listing on the UNESCO World Heritage list is Namhansanseong. It was added to the list at the end of a 10 day meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee at Doha on 25 June. According to the summary on the UNESCO website: Namhansanseong was designed as an emergency capital for the Joson dynasty […]

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The Art of Printing: Korea’s Evolving Printing Types

by Philip Gowman 5 April 2014
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Organised to coincide with the London Book Fair, this exhibition at the KCC is curated by the Korean Publishers Association: The Art of Printing: Korea’s Evolving Printing Types Exhibition Dates: 07 April 2014 – 14 June 2014 Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK The World’s Oldest Wooden and Metal Printing Technologies – Korea’s Printing Culture presented […]

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Looking back at 2013: Culture, tourism and branding stories

by Philip Gowman 2 February 2014
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In the second of five articles looking back over 2013, we recall some of the tourism and heritage stories that made the news. And we also take a look at some of the stories about Korean food, given the increasing popularity of Korean cuisine of Korea. Arts and Heritage Sungnyemun, the great Namdaemun gate, reopened […]

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Kimjang gets a UNESCO listing

by Philip Gowman 11 December 2013
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Kimjang, the making and sharing of kimchi in the Republic of Korea, was admitted to the UNESCO register of intangible cultural heritage on 5 December 2013. Note that, like the listing of Arirang, this pan-Korean cultural item has been registered by South Korea. Links: Kimjang page at UNESCO Update 13 December: The South China Morning […]

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Korean Naval Firepower Part 2 – Koryo and Columbus

by Matthew Jackson 9 September 2013
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Choi Mu-seon was not the inventor of heavy artillery, although he made many innovative variations of the concept. Why did other countries not simply take their cannons and heavy firearms with them on board their ships? The problem with a wooden ship is, if its displacement is sufficiently small, the recoil of a heavy weapon […]

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Photos of King Taejo’s tomb in Kaesong

by Philip Gowman 21 July 2013
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The Rodong Sinmun has some nice pictures and a brief article on the tomb of Wang Kon, founder of the Koryo dynasty as King Taejo. The tomb is one of the Historic Monuments and Sites of Kaesong recently entered into the UNESCO list of world heritage. Update: links to the full set of Rodong Sinmun’s […]

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Bought for £10 from a Parisian cheese merchant, Lady Hyegyong’s Uigwe is now digitised

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2013
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The Joseon court knew how to document things. And one of those court records, recently digitised and put online by the British Library, shows they also knew how to celebrate. The Uigwe – The Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty – were included in the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2006. In its […]

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“Arirang” looks to be safeguarded at UNESCO for (South) Korea

by Philip Gowman 11 November 2012
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After last year’s scare that China was laying claim to Arirang, Korea’s most famous folk-song, it looks like UNESCO will soon be listing it as part of Korea’s intangible heritage (source: Korea Times / Cultural Heritage Administration). But the song, which is loved throughout the peninsula and in Korean communities elsewhere, is to be registered […]

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2012 Travel Diary #16: Silla pagodas, Korea’s first beautiful village, and Nammyeong’s tomb

by Philip Gowman 19 September 2012
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29 March 2012. Today is the day we start the ascent of Jirisan, but first there’s a couple of local sites of interest that I need to visit. First, the two Unified Silla dynasty stone pagodas, which are now the only remnants of Dansoksa, a temple built in the middle of the eighth century. The […]

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2012 Travel Diary #14: Mugwort pancakes and bronze age dolmen

by Philip Gowman 25 June 2012
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28 March 2012. It’s time to leave Tongyeong, and head off to Sancheong, where I have happily spent much of my time in Korea in recent years. We set off along the main Tongyeong to Seoul expressway, which passes alongside the Gyeonghogang river and thus cuts through the heart of Sancheong County. I am told […]

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Ancient Silla dog breed to be listed as heritage

by Philip Gowman 9 April 2012
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The Donggyeong dog breed – thought to be Korea’s oldest – is to be listed as a natural monument, joining the Jindo (a hunting dog) and the Sapsal (apparently effective for keeping ghosts away) http://bit.ly/IlE3EK

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Korean Naval Firepower Part 1 – When Wako Attack

by Matthew Jackson 29 March 2012
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The Battle of Lepanto, wherein the allied forces of Venice, Genoa, and Spain overcame the Turks by means of a superior number of cannons, was a turning point in naval history in the West. Dominance of the sea enabled countries such as the Netherlands and England to play a dominant role in world affairs. The […]

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Reading the Heavens Part 3 – The Astronomical Legacy of King Sejong

by Matthew Jackson 28 February 2012
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As mentioned in part 1, King Sejong presided over the zenith of Korean astronomical achievement. The construction of a large observatory at Gyeongbok Palace in 1438 – later destroyed without a trace in the Japanese invasion – played a key role in the country’s progress. On the roof were installed various astronomical instruments such as […]

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Reading the Heavens Part 2 – World’s First Complete Star Map

by Matthew Jackson 21 February 2012
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Koguryo generally has the tag of a warlike kingdom, and I always assumed that it was the least culturally developed of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Amongst other things, however, it was responsible for the world’s earliest complete map of the stars. This planispheric star map is believed to have been produced in 1395, the […]

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Reading the Heavens Part 1 – Two Millennia of Astronomy in Korea

by Matthew Jackson 14 February 2012
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To celebrate star-crossed lovers everywhere, Matthew Jackson starts a series of articles on Korean astronomy As we can tell from ancient monuments like the Dolmen stones and more recent buildings such as Cheomseongdae, astronomy was big in Korea. Why was this exactly? Reverence for nature was part of it, but it was in fact more […]

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