Tourism

A few days into this year’s Korea trip, my brain was threatening to explode. Coming to Seoul is always a pretty full-on experience: so many things to pack in, so many people to see; and inevitably the first few days you are also pretty sleep-deprived as you adjust to the time zone. But this year […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 3: Park Soo-keun, King Sejong’s tomb and the journey to Gangneung

by Philip Gowman 31 May 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Sunday 31 May. Most of the morning I’m faffing around with my bags, working out what I can leave at the hotel in Seoul so that I can travel slightly lighter on the bus down South. For the first time I’ve brought an SLR to Korea with me to get some slightly better […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 2: The Drawing hand | Seooreung | Tea Museum | Makgeolli at Kim Sakkat

by Philip Gowman 30 May 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, 30 May. Two hours sleep on the plane, and only another two on my first night in Seoul, means that I’m groggy on Saturday morning. A quick session in the hotel gym doesn’t do much to remedy that. Coffee with The Drawing Hand My brain is gently kick-started by a coffee in the hotel lobby, […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 1: Arrivals — an evening in Hongdae

by Philip Gowman 29 May 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, 29 May. One flight is much like the next, the only differences being the food and in-flight entertainment. Asiana did a very acceptable bibimbap on the way out and, more ambitiously, a ssambap on the way back. Their tinned makgeolli, which I sampled on the return leg, is not to be recommended. Maybe […]

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Looking back at 2014: Culture, sport and tourism

by Philip Gowman 15 February 2015
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In the first of four articles looking back over 2014, we recall some of the culture, sports and heritage stories that made the news. Arts Dansaekhwa emerged as flavour of the year. Following the MMCA exhibition in 2013 and Joan Kee’s book, Kukje Gallery had a monochrome retrospective, and dansaekhwa artists were included in MMCA […]

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If aliens landed in Gyeongnam, would they think Koreans worshipped the turtle?

by Philip Gowman 10 August 2014
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Looking back at some of my travel photos, I can’t help but notice the prominence of turtles in the south of the peninsula. The symbolism of the turtle is explained briefly in the Life in Korea website as follows: While the dragon was considered the ruler of all animals, the turtle ruled over the insects. […]

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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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Sancheong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 1 April 2012. 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 […]

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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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Interview with the new KTO President in Korea Herald

by Philip Gowman 19 June 2014
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Hmmm. Gone is the 기, 흥 and 정 of Lee Charm. Instead, are we to get an emphasis on K-pop at the expense of the more traditional things? Two quotes from an interview with Byun Choo-suk, the new KTO president, in the Korea Herald: “The royal guard changing ceremony at palaces in Seoul, traditional mask […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 11: The most expensive breakfast ever

by Philip Gowman 16 June 2014
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The return home, with thanks to all who made the trip special. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Monday 16 June, 8am. My last morning in Seoul, and I was seriously hung over. I had arranged to meet the Seoul bureau chief of my favourite newspaper for breakfast: he had suggested that we meet at my hotel, not far from […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 10: two art museums and a reality show

by Philip Gowman 15 June 2014
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In which we have our customary day visiting the contemporary art museums. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Sunday 15 June, 9am. For the first time in recent memory I haven’t scheduled in a trip to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon this visit. And that’s because, since the last visit, the big construction project on […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 9: the RASKB Garden Party

by Philip Gowman 14 June 2014
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In which we have our third literature-related lunch of the trip, and enjoy an important event in the Seoul social calendar. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Saturday 14 June, 9am. I make a leisurely start to the day, ambling up via Jogyesa to Seoul Selection bookshop, intending to spend a chunk of cash. I get there at 10:30 to […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 8: Two museums near Yongin

by Philip Gowman 13 June 2014
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A day-trip South into Gyeonggi-do to visit two top museums. There are other things to visit near Yongin as well as the Folk Village. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Friday 13 June, 9am. The Ho-am Art Museum in Yongin is home to a number of treasures. The museum opened in 1982 as the permanent home for the collection of Samsung boss Lee […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 7: the concubine, the eunuchs and the gisaeng

by Philip Gowman 12 June 2014
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Another literary lunch and a visit to the tombs of the trusted palace servants. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Thursday 12 June, 9am. I decide to take it easy today, and have a bit of a lie in. I pop outside to the subway station to pick up a coffee and pastry, and then pay a quick visit to […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 6: modern design and ancient mysteries

by Philip Gowman 11 June 2014
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Joseon dynasty treasures in Seoul’s newest public building, and conversations about mountain shrines. Eulji-ro, Seoul, Wednesday 11 June, 9am. An added bonus of staying at the Lotte Hotel is the mobile phone that comes free with the room. But still I needed a SIM card for my smartphone: when you’re in an unfamiliar location the map […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 5: 타종식 — New beginnings

by Philip Gowman 10 June 2014
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In which we hike to Beopgyesa to cut the ribbon at the 타종식: the ceremonial first ringing of the highest temple bell in South Korea. Donguibogam Village, Sancheong-gun, Tuesday 10 June. We wake up at 5:30, dilute our espresso with boiling water from the kettle and carefully eat the cake. I have a dull feeling […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 4: The reappointment

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2014
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In which I say farewell to the retiring County mayor, meet the incoming one, and get given my first public engagement. Sancheong-yo, Sancheong-gun, Monday 9 June, 7:00am. The sleeping pill ensured that I got a good night’s sleep. And the guest bathroom, with plenty of towels, is a luxury. The day is already warm at […]

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