Periods >

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 […]

{ 0 comments }

Mun Ik-jeom: dutiful son and smuggler of cotton seeds

by Philip Gowman 18 July 2014
Thumbnail image for Mun Ik-jeom: dutiful son and smuggler of cotton seeds

Mun Ik jeom (문익점, 文益漸) was a rare individual who was honoured by the kings of two royal dynasties, first by King U of Goryeo and second by the great Joseon King Sejong. The honour received from Sejong was posthumous, and was in recognition of what started, in modern day terms, as industrial espionage. And […]

Read the full article →

UK-Korea Relations – A Talk by Thomas Harris KBE

by Matthew Jackson 2 July 2014
Thumbnail image for UK-Korea Relations – A Talk by Thomas Harris KBE

The talk on UK-Korea relations by Sir Thomas Harris KBE CMG, held at Gresham College on Friday 27th of June, was both a stimulating and ultimately uplifting account of the diplomatic and economic interactions between the two countries before and after the Korean War. Amongst his various international posts as a businessman and diplomat, Sir […]

Read the full article →

Namhansanseong joins Suwon fortress on UNESCO World Heritage list

by Philip Gowman 30 June 2014
Thumbnail image for Namhansanseong joins Suwon fortress on UNESCO World Heritage list

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 […]

Read the full article →

The Art of Printing: Korea’s Evolving Printing Types

by Philip Gowman 5 April 2014
Thumbnail image for The Art of Printing:  Korea’s Evolving Printing Types

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 […]

Read the full article →

The Ghosts of Jeju to screen at SOAS

by Philip Gowman 3 October 2013
Thumbnail image for The Ghosts of Jeju to screen at SOAS

Those who are eager to watch Jiseul (and here’s hoping it will be getting a London screening soon) will want to watch this documentary to fill in some of the background. It also provides context to the protests about the Gangjeong naval base. The Ghosts of Jeju Dir: Regis Tremblay, 2013, 80 mins Brunei Gallery, […]

Read the full article →

Crime and Punishment in Chosŏn Korea

by Philip Gowman 24 September 2013
Thumbnail image for Crime and Punishment in Chosŏn Korea

Three years ago SOAS held a conference entitled Historians, clerks and accountants: Methodological issues in the use of sources on Chosŏn History. One of the more interesting elements of that day was a consideration of court records of criminal trials and a discussion of Joseon dynasty autopsy techniques. The speaker, Kim Ho, returns this Friday […]

Read the full article →

Korean Naval Firepower Part 2 – Koryo and Columbus

by Matthew Jackson 9 September 2013
Thumbnail image for Korean Naval Firepower Part 2 – Koryo and Columbus

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 […]

Read the full article →

Photos of King Taejo’s tomb in Kaesong

by Philip Gowman 21 July 2013
Thumbnail image for Photos of King Taejo’s tomb in Kaesong

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 […]

Read the full article →

1956 – The birth of the hallyu?

by Philip Gowman 16 June 2013
Thumbnail image for 1956 – The birth of the hallyu?

Not really. But there’s a nice story in the Korea Herald about what is believed to be the first ever single released by a Korean artist in the U S of A: Ok Doo-ok’s East of Make Believe – a 1956 English-language remake of Korean singer Hyeon In’s Gohyangmanri, which roughly translates as “Miles Away […]

Read the full article →

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

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2013
Thumbnail image for Bought for £10 from a Parisian cheese merchant, Lady Hyegyong’s Uigwe is now digitised

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 […]

Read the full article →

March For The Beloved – in memory of Gwangju

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2013
Thumbnail image for March For The Beloved – in memory of Gwangju

On the anniversary of the 18 May 1980 uprising in Gwangju, here is song which became its unofficial anthem. It was written in 1982 by Kim Jong-ryul for his friends, a couple who were murdered in the uprising. The title is 임을 위한 행진곡 or “March for the beloved”, sometimes translated as “March for the […]

Read the full article →

Kim Sung Ok: A Literature of and for the Self – Steve Capener at SOAS

by Philip Gowman 13 May 2013
Thumbnail image for Kim Sung Ok: A Literature of and for the Self – Steve Capener at SOAS

On his way to a conference on Alternative Modernisms in Cardiff, Steve Capener gives a talk on one of my favourite authors. Kim Sung Ok: A Literature of and for the Self Steve Capener (Assistant Professor, Seoul Women’s University) 14 May 2013, 5:15 – 7:00 PM Russell Square Room 4421 Abstract After he took power […]

Read the full article →

Kim Young-ha: Black Flower – an imaginative re-telling of a fascinating byway of Korean history

by Philip Gowman 13 March 2013
Thumbnail image for Kim Young-ha: Black Flower – an imaginative re-telling of a fascinating byway of Korean history

Kim Young-ha: Black Flower Originally published in Korean in 2003 This edition Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012, 305pp, Translated by Charles La Shure Black Flower tells the fascinating story of a thousand or so Korean emigrants who sailed from Jemulpo (now Incheon) in 1905 in search of jobs in Mexico, and ended up founding a short-lived […]

Read the full article →

Happy 150th Birthday, James Scarth Gale

by Philip Gowman 19 February 2013
Thumbnail image for Happy 150th Birthday, James Scarth Gale

James Scarth Gale – missionary, translator, and one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch – was born 150 years ago on 19 February 1863. His birthday has been marked by an upgraded Wikipedia page, a special page with photos on Brother Anthony’s site, and a memorial service at Yeondong Church (which […]

Read the full article →

SOAS Seminar: The Korean Police Prepare for War, 1946-1950

by Philip Gowman 21 January 2013
Thumbnail image for SOAS Seminar: The Korean Police Prepare for War, 1946-1950

The second SOAS seminar of the spring term: Martyrs and Murderers: The Korean Police Prepare for War, 1946-1950 Konrad Lawson (Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow, European University Institute) Date: 25 January 2013 Time: 5:15 – 7:00 PM Venue: Russell Square, College Buildings, Room G50 Speaker Biography Konrad Lawson is a Max Weber postdoctoral fellow at the […]

Read the full article →

SOAS Seminar: Korean Cannibalism

by Philip Gowman 17 January 2013
Thumbnail image for SOAS Seminar: Korean Cannibalism

SOAS kicks off its Spring term of evening seminars with an unusual subject: Korean Cannibalism: Production of Transgression in a Climate of Social Ills Dr Se-Woong Koo (Center for Korean Studies) École des Hautes Études Date: 18 January 2013 Time: 5:15 – 7:00 PM Venue: Russell Square, College Buildings, Room G50 Abstract The Chosǒn Dynasty […]

Read the full article →