Travel diaries

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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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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A quick thank you to the many who once again made my Korea trip so special

by Philip Gowman 28 September 2013
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While this year’s trip to Korea is still fresh in my mind, here are a few thank-yous to the many people who made the trip special. Write-ups will follow over the coming weeks, not necessarily in chronological order. Thanks… To former LKL contributor Shin Eunjung and Tim Anderson for the splendid Gwangyang Bulgogi in, er, […]

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MMLG20: The temple of a thousand pagodas

by Philip Gowman 11 September 2013
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Unjusa, Hwasun-gun, Wednesday 11 September, 3:45am. My phone wakes me up at 3:45 am, and I struggle into my trousers, splash some water onto my face, and make my way to the main shrine. I’m the first one there, and soon Kyung-sook arrives, then Wonsan himself. Later, a couple of the temple women join us. […]

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MMLG19: Mosquitoes at Unjusa

by Philip Gowman 10 September 2013
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Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 12:30pm We head back to the hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes, before lunch at a nearby eatery – a deliciously delicate clam noodle soup. The soup is brought in a large bowl full of a light broth. At the bottom of the bowl is a mound of […]

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MMLG18: Suncheon Garden Expo — The Korean Garden

by Philip Gowman 10 September 2013
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Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 11:30am. As we emerge from the container tunnels on the western bank of the river we are beginning to wilt in the heat and we are sorely tempted to exit the expo at the nearest gate. But then we catch sight of a frozen (and non-alcoholic) cocktail stall which gives us […]

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MMLG17: Suncheon Garden Expo — The Bridge of Dreams

by Philip Gowman 10 September 2013
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Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 11am. The expo precincts are shaped like an inverted triangle, its long northern baseline lying on a straight road which leads eastwards to Gwangwang and westwards towards the tea fields of Boseong. This baseline is about two kilometres long, but in the heat it feels three times that. At the Sancheong […]

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MMLG16: Suncheon Garden Expo — The Lugworm’s Trail

by Philip Gowman 10 September 2013
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Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 10am. Like many areas of the Suncheon Garden Expo, Hwang Ji-hae’s garden, which was the main reason for my coming to Suncheon in the first place, also limits its reliance on floral colour. Looked at from above, or viewed from the source of the water (top left of above image) which […]

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MMLG15: Swirls and spirals in the Suncheon Lake Garden

by Philip Gowman 10 September 2013
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Suncheon-si, Tuesday 10 September, 8am. After the rich variety of the hanjeongsik food the previous evening, the buffet breakfast at the hotel offered comfort for a lazy western palette. I could have had some Korean food – miso soup, noodles, rice, the normal offering – but instead I went for toast, omelette, frankfurter, and tomato […]

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MMLG14: Gwangyang and the journey into Jeollanamdo

by Philip Gowman 9 September 2013
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Sancheong-eup, Sancheong-gun, Monday 9 September, 11:30am. We have an appointment in Jeollanam-do. We are to meet former LKL contributor Shin Eunjeong and her husband Tim Anderson for lunch in Gwangyang, a coastal town known for its huge steelworks. It is also known for its Gwangyang bulgogi, a variant of the dish where the meat is […]

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MMLG13: The Sancheong Oriental Medicinal Herb Institute

by Philip Gowman 9 September 2013
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Sanchong-eup, Sancheong-gun, Monday 9 September, 10am. At the Institute, the chief researcher Dr Kim Yun-geun shows me round the various laboratories. It’s one of those scenarios where the guide has only a few words of English, the subject is extremely specialist and so Kyung-sook, who I discover later has been press-ganged into delivering the presentation […]

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MMLG12: The recreation forest, and getting to know the Expo

by Philip Gowman 9 September 2013
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Donguibogam Village, Sancheong-gun, Monday 9 September, 6am. Apart from the need to plan my future visit to the Expo, I also seem to be an unofficial English language consultant for the Sancheong Oriental Medicinal Herb Institute, so I need to find out more about what they do if I’m to redraft their publicity materials. And […]

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MMLG11: Mother Mago, the Goddess of Jirisan

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Jungsan-ri, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 10:30am. It is pleasant to sit down in a comfortable seat in the cool environment of an air-conditioned car. After the hot, humid exertions on the mountain I am happy just to sit in the passenger seat not wanting any particular destination. But just outside Jungsan-ri we turn into a narrow […]

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MMLG10: Breakfast at Beopgyesa

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Beopgyesa Temple, Jirisan, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 8:30am. Breakfast is again in the kitchen, and as usual (because I’m a foreigner unused to sitting on the floor) I’m allowed to sit with my back to the wall. I’m encouraged to stretch my legs out straight, and pummel my thighs and massage my knees, which are already […]

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MMLG9: Sunrise on Cheonwangbong

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Beopgyesa Temple, Jirisan, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 4am. It’s still pitch black. In parts, the sky is thick with cloud, but one or two stars manage to find a break to peek through. We set off up the trail, I with my head torch, and Mr Yoon using the flashlight from his mobile phone (he has […]

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MMLG8: Prayers to the Sanshin

by Philip Gowman 7 September 2013
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Danseong-myeon, Sancheong-gun, Saturday 7 September, 4pm. After last year’s abortive attempt to get to the top of the highest mountain on mainland South Korea, I was determined to give it another go at a time of year when there was guaranteed not to be any ice on the path. As an added bonus, what would […]

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MMLG7: Min Young-ki’s new directions

by Philip Gowman 7 September 2013
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Danseong-myeon, Sancheong-gun, Saturday 7 September, 2pm. We’d had dinner with him the day before last, but this afternoon it was time to pay a more formal visit to Min Young-ki and to see his latest work. When I had visited the previous year, he had been preparing for an exhibition of his famous tea bowls […]

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