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It’s not often that the one-time parent organisation the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch (est 1900) puts on an event that is anything to do with Korea. But the upcoming talk at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (est 1823) looks well worth the wait. Humour and Eighteenth-Century Korean Art RAS STUDENT […]

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Ghosts of Jeju to get another London screening

by Philip Gowman 6 April 2015
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Eighteen months ago there was a screening of this documentary about the 4:3 incident also known as the Jeju Massacre. There’s now an opportunity to see it again at a deli in Deptford on 27 April as part of the Free Film Festival. Free event. No ticket required, but capacity is only 40 so get […]

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Pak Chiwon’s Jehol Diary: An amiable bore abroad

by Philip Gowman 30 March 2015
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Pak Chiwon: The Jehol Diary Translated with notes by Yang Hi Choe-Wall Global Oriental 2010, 208pp The Jehol Diary is a contemporary account of one of the regular journeys from Joseon Korea to Qing China bearing tribute to the emperor. The journey described in this diary took place in 1780, and was ordered by King Jeongjo […]

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Global Oriental title on Joseon dynasty wins American Library Association award

by Philip Gowman 21 February 2015
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Congratulations to Brill / Global Oriental books, whose Everyday Life in Joseon-Era Korea was in Choice Magazine’s list of Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014. The book, edited by Cambridge University’s Michael Shin, is a collection of features on various aspects of life in the Joseon Dynasty: Everyday Life in Joseon-Era Korea shows how the momentous […]

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Theatre on video: a screening of Oh Tae-seok’s The Life Cord

by Philip Gowman 31 January 2015
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Oh Tae-seok’s plays are always worth watching, and coming up this month is a screening of a live performance by the National Drama Company of Korea. The play covers a troubled period of Joseon dynasty history: the struggles for the throne in the years following the death of King Sejong. The story of the deposed […]

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Seduced by Yi Seong-gye: the first volumes in the Sillok are translated

by Philip Gowman 18 October 2014
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The Annals of King T’aejo, Found of Korea’s Choson Dynasty Translated and annotated by Choi Byonghyon Harvard University Press, 2014, 1,028 pp I wandered into the University bookshop last night for a browse. I’d just been to see Andrew Killick talk about Hwang Byungki at SOAS, and thought I might try to pick up his […]

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Edinburgh Fringe visit: two Korean monodramas and one Korean American

by Philip Gowman 18 August 2014
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Korean acts coming to the Fringe have often majored on the non-verbal: percussion, taekwondo, comedy, physical theatre, music and dance. Last year, with Othello – Two Men, we discovered that more traditional theatre, heavy on text, can work well despite the language barrier – provided surtitles are visible. This year the Korean contingent was bolder […]

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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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2012 Travel Diary #23: Mun Ik-jeom: dutiful son and smuggler of cotton seeds

by Philip Gowman 18 July 2014
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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 […]

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UK-Korea Relations – A Talk by Thomas Harris KBE

by Matthew Jackson 2 July 2014
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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 […]

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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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The Ghosts of Jeju to screen at SOAS

by Philip Gowman 3 October 2013
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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, […]

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Crime and Punishment in Chosŏn Korea

by Philip Gowman 24 September 2013
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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 […]

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2013 Travel Diary #34: The Gods of Land and Grain

by Philip Gowman 15 September 2013
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Deoksugung, Jung-gu, Seoul, Sunday 15 September, 10:45am.  By the time I reach the Deoksu Palace at 10:45am I’m already perspiring. I was wearing sunblock, but should have been wearing a sunhat and some shorts. It was going to be a hot day. This morning’s activity is a guided walk following the Sajik Daeje procession from […]

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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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