LKL Travel Diaries

Here you can find the diaries of our trips to Korea over the years, most recent articles first. You can also read them grouped together by year: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

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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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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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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2014 Travel Diary day 3: 사십구재

by Philip Gowman 8 June 2014
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The 49th-day ceremony (사십구재) for Sena Lee, who died on 22 April 2014, at Anjeoksa, Sancheon-gun, at which family and friends said farewell to her. According to dharma master Tim Lerch,  Traditionally, the period of 49 days after someone dies is seen as a time for that person to check their consciousness and digest their karma. According to […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 2: Orchids for the altar

by Philip Gowman 7 June 2014
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In which we make our way to Sancheong County via a literary lunch. Haeundae Beach, Busan, Saturday 7 June, 8am. The buskers must have been singing until later than 3am. Even though my room was somewhere higher than the 10th floor, the sound insulation was so poor that they might just as well have been […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 1: Harassed in Haeundae

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2014
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In which I arrive, somewhat frazzled, at Busan’s crowded beach area. Canary Wharf, London, Thursday 5 June, 3:30pm. Every time I leave the office for a trip, no matter how much I’ve tried to tidy up all my loose ends in advance, the departure from work is stressful. I had left a good hour to finish […]

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