Travel diaries

This year, I’m not doing a detailed hour-by-hour account of my trip. That’s not because I didn’t have much to report. It’s just that I decided only to focus on the bits which merit standalone articles. After all, you don’t particularly want to know what I had for lunch every day, or who my dinner […]

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Sewol victims remembered at the Ansan Street Arts Festival

by Philip Gowman 5 May 2017
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Ansan, Gyeonggi-do, 5 May 2017, 6:30pm. It is said that at the height of his efforts to build the Republic of Korea into an economic powerhouse, Park Chung-hee happened to be flying in a helicopter over western Gyeonggi-do. He looked out and saw what he considered to be a lot of under-utilised real estate, and decided […]

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Beth McKillop reports from the 2016 Culture Communication Forum in Seoul

by Beth McKillop 12 September 2016
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Senior Research Fellow and former Deputy Director at the Victoria and Albert Museum Beth McKillop was the UK’s representative at Korea’s annual Culture Communication Forum hosted by the Corea Image Communication Institute. Since 1990 when I first visited Korea to collect ceramics, outfits and furniture for a planned Victoria and Albert Museum Korea gallery, I’ve […]

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2016 travel diary 20: Journey to Iljiam

by Philip Gowman 19 May 2016
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Nohwa-do, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do, 19 May 2016, 1pm We regretfully leave Bogildo and its sister island Nohwado behind. We have a bigger ferry for the return journey and I somehow manage to reverse the car into position without hitting anything or anyone. As we sail back to the mainland I am happily wandering around on deck […]

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2016 travel diary 19: The Scholar’s Garden #1: Yun Seon-do on Bogildo

by Philip Gowman 19 May 2016
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Bogil-do, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do, 19 May 2016, 10:30am Way back in the mid Joseon dynasty, being a scholar official was a troublesome occupation. If you were a dedicated scholar you had to act in accordance with your conscience and the highest principles. Unfortunately, as happens with whistle-blowers today, your conscience could be severely career-limiting. If you picked […]

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2016 travel diary 18: Incompetent Foreigner on the ferry to Bogildo

by Philip Gowman 19 May 2016
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Ttangkkeut Maeul / Songji-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 19 May 2016, 6am. Despite the calmness of the previous day, at the top of the hill it was quite breezy. During the night the wind had risen. Always in a strange bed you sleep lightly, and with the wind rustling in the trees and somehow seeping into the […]

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2016 travel diary 17: Land’s End

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Songji-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 18 May 2016, 6pm. We continue our drive southeast along the coast of Haenam County, heading towards our destination for the day: Land’s End. The official name for the village is Songho-ri, Seongji-myeon, but Land’s End Village, Ttangkkeut Maeul, is much better as a marketing tool, ensuring everyone knows its geographical significance. […]

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2016 travel diary 16: Yun Du-seo’s historic house

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Hyeonsan-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 18 May 2016, 5pm. By the time we leave the Jindo bridge area it’s past 5pm. I have a huge range of things on the itinerary that I could try to fit in, should there be time. But to rush anything would not feel right, particularly when the weather is so conducive […]

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2016 travel diary 15: Song of the Sword and Roaring Currents – the two sides of Myeongnyang

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Munnae-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 18 May 2016, 4:30pm. The battle of Myeongnyang, in October 1597, was Yi Sun-shin’s penultimate victory, and the last one that he came out of alive. His final victory, the Battle of Noryang, came in December 1598 in the narrow strait between Namhae and the mainland, when a stray bullet killed him. […]

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2016 travel diary 14: Journey towards Jindo and the Myeongnyang Monument

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, Wednesday 18 May 2016, 10am Sancheong -> Sacheon -> Suncheon We say our farewells to the mayor and tourism chief at the County administrative offices. Kyung-sook is driving me to Suncheon – about 90 minutes’ leisurely drive away – so that I can meet up with Insoon. She is scheduled to arrive in […]

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2016 travel diary 13: farewell to the mayor

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, 18 May 2016, 7am The morning is bright and (because we are still in the cool of the day) refreshing. I make my regular 7:30 call back to London, and start getting myself together. Black coffee, fruit and a pastry is the breakfast. We are due to pay a visit to the mayor […]

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2016 travel diary 12: Hwangmaesan

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2016
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Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, 17 May 2016, 2pm. The Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival After lunch my prime objective was to see the Royal Azaleas (철쭉) on Hwangmaesan. This was the one major scenic sight of Sancheong that I had yet to witness up close.  I had been warned not to expect much, but I was surprised to see […]

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2016 travel diary 11: Buyeo National Museum and the tombs at Neungsan-ri

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2016
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Buyeo-eup, Chungcheongnam-do, 17 May 2016 10am. Buyeo National Museum Next stop was the Buyeo National Museum. Here, we were totally shameless in our visit. It was to be a precision strike: go and see the the famous Gilt Bronze Incense Burner of Baekje and get out quick: we had an appointment in Sancheong. But of […]

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2016 travel diary 10: early morning in Baekje Cultural Land

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2016
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Gyuam-myeon, Buyeo-gun, Chungchongnam-do, 17 May 2016, 7am. Lotte and early Korea-Japan connections Baekje is known for its close ties to early Japan. According to one version of events, Empress Jingu was an invader from the Korean peninsula and had Baekje blood in her. Such a controversial hypothesis does not appear as a possibility on Jingu’s […]

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Song Si-yeol, the scholar with the chisel

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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I have now visited three places where Joseon dynasty scholar-official Song Si-yeol has made his mark. In none of the places did I register the connection until after returning to London; in two of the places I never got to see the mark he left (there wasn’t enough time on the schedule) and in the […]

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2016 travel diary 9: Busosanseong – the Baekje royal garden

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016, 5:30pm. The Archaeological Site in Gwanbuk-ri Sometimes, collecting UNESCO points is not as fulfilling as it might be. The item of heritage that has been registered might not be particularly exciting to look at, even though it is historically important. But if a site is historically important you may well […]

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2016 travel diary 8: Buyeo’s Jeongnimsa Temple Site

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016, 4:45pm. The sun is still hot as we arrive at our destination. We walk slowly, as there is little shade, past the ticket office to where is a wide, flat open space in the middle of which is National Treasure #9: the five storey stone pagoda of Jeongnimsa Temple. Is one allowed […]

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