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

When I started writing up my 2011 Korea trip a few days after returning to London in May that year, I said “the write-ups are going to take a while to put together and will involve rather more legwork than last year, but I’ll get them done over the next few weeks.” Five years later, […]

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Exhibition visit: Korean artists at APT8

by Philip Gowman 28 December 2015
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The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) has been hosting the Asia Pacific Triennial since 1993. The exhibition features artists from all over the region, and Korea has been represented from the start. The triennial is spread over two buildings (the QAG itself and the nearby Gallery of Modern Art which opened in 2006) which collectively are […]

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Echoes and connections – an introduction to LKL’s 2015 Korea Trip

by Philip Gowman 20 July 2015
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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 11: a visit to Studio MWP

by Philip Gowman 8 June 2015
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Daehakro, Seoul, Monday 8 June. This year’s trip to Korea had been full of pleasant surprises: people I had not expected to meet, things I had not been expecting to see. But the most pleasant surprise of all had been an invitation to visit Studio Meditation with a Pencil, creators of my favourite Korean animated […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 10: Namhansanseong and the Gangnam Tombs

by Philip Gowman 7 June 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Sunday 7 June The Mountain Fortress I am scheduled to meet a friend at 9:30 at Sanseong Station on Line 8. From there we take the bus (number 9) via a circuitous route through a residential area and up the steep hill to the main car park of one of Korea’s latest UNESCO […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 9: Yeongsanjae and Seodaemun

by Philip Gowman 6 June 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Saturday 6 June Bongwonsa temple and the Yeongsanjae rituals Today is the second UNESCO-listed item of intangible cultural heritage of my brief stay. I am tagging along with a small group of American summer students who are getting course credits by having a whale of a time in Seoul. How this works from an […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 8: Back to school, back to Seoul

by Philip Gowman 5 June 2015
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Sancheong-gun, Friday 5 June Today I am due to say farewell to Sancheong again, but before I leave there is a treat in store: a school visit. Mr Yoon’s wife happens to teach in a primary school in Dangye Village, and she thought it might be nice for her pupils to meet a foreigner. And […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 7: A King, two generals and a gisaeng

by Philip Gowman 4 June 2015
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Sancheong-gun, Thursday 4 June Having over-indulged the previous evening, I didn’t sleep well. Although I had set the alarm to wake me up for my early morning hike, I didn’t really need it. I get up at 6am, and Kyung-sook emerges from the other room soon afterwards. We are shortly on our way along the […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 6: return to Sancheong

by Philip Gowman 3 June 2015
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Seomyeon, Busan, Wednesday 3 June Min arrives at the hotel as agreed at 9:30 and we drive to the Centum City area for a late breakfast. The venue is Yangsan Gukbap, and as with many Korean restaurants the clue to the menu is in the name of the establishment, which is open 24 hours a […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 5: The UN Memorial Cemetery and the start of the MERS scare

by Philip Gowman 2 June 2015
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Gangneung, Tuesday 2 June. Today promises to be a relatively low-key affair. As promised, Eun-jin arrives at the hotel at 8:50 to take me to the bus station, and I buy my ticket for the 9:30 to Busan, boarding a coach with maybe a dozen people on it, including a sailor in a smart white […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 4: the Danoje rituals on Daegwallyeong ridge

by Philip Gowman 1 June 2015
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Gangneung, Monday 1 June. I turn up at the Chilsadang, Gangneung’s elegant Joseon dynasty town hall building, at 8:30, backpack stuffed with camera equipment, bottled water and snacks to see me through the day. Ten days earlier at the same spot there had been a ceremony which launches the whole Dano month: a ritual called […]

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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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