Korea Trip 2011

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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A visit to Min Young-ki

by Philip Gowman 29 June 2012
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When I visited Sancheong for the first time in 2010 one of the items on my agenda was a visit to Sancheong’s finest potter – and indeed Korea’s most renowned tea-bowl maker – Min Young-ki (민영기). Unfortunately owning to a diary mixup Min Senior was not there, and instead I had a very pleasant meeting […]

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Some regional foods in Sancheong

by Philip Gowman 28 June 2012
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Sancheong: the name of the county literally means Mountain Purity. So the foods of the region use ingredients from the mountains – especially fresh herbs – and the clean rivers. Here are some of the foods I have sampled during the course of a few visits to the county: Fruits While fruits are not unique […]

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The LKL Korea Trip 2011 – first thoughts

by Philip Gowman 10 May 2011
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I’ve just returned from a few days in Korea – the usual programme of meeting new people, renewing old friendships, covering old and new ground and enjoying lots of good food. It was a less intensive week than last year’s because I was under my own steam rather than being hosted by the Ministry of […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 9: MOCA’s latest exhibitions

by Philip Gowman 8 May 2011
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Sunday 8 May 2011. Whenever I travel to Korea I try to visit the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art main building in Gwacheon. This time there was an exhibition of recent additions to the permanent collection – including an imposing set of video works by Kimsooja – and a special retrospective […]

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Lee Jung-seob: a wartime artist taking refuge in Jeju-do

by Philip Gowman 7 May 2011
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Seogwipo, Jeju-do, Saturday 7 May 2011. Lee Jung-seob (이중섭) (1916-1956) is one of Korea’s best-known post-liberation painters. His work is perhaps appreciated by artists and connoisseurs more than members of the public. His contemporary Park Soo-keun, with his unthreatening and nostalgic rustic scenes, is almost a household name. Lee’s work however is more varied, combining […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 8: Seogipwo’s Lee Jung-seob museum and Jeju’s stone tomb guardians

by Philip Gowman 7 May 2011
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Jeju Stone Park, Saturday 7 May 2011. We wake up on our second morning in the Stone Park. We go on a pleasant stroll through the parks’s extraordinary recreation forest. The part of the forest accessible from the Stone Park has had pathways sensitively constructed enabling families to enjoy the unusual gnarled shapes of the […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 7: Baek Un-cheol and Seolmundae Halmang: a lifetime’s obsession with stones and their stories

by Philip Gowman 6 May 2011
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Jeju Stone Park, Friday 6 May 2011. “I fell in love with Seolmundae Halmang, and now I can’t love any other woman” says Baek Un-cheol, honorary director of Jeju Stone Park. Maybe it explains why he is single. No earthly woman can compete in his affections with the legendary earth mother and creator of Jejudo. […]

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Nammyeong Cho Shik: teacher, philosopher and inspiration for the anti-Japanese resistance armies

by Philip Gowman 5 May 2011
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Sancheong-gun, Thursday 5 May 2011. Students of Korean history in the Koryo and particularly the Joseon period cannot avoid grappling at some stage with the concepts of Confucianism. Distilled down to its most digestible elements, it is portrayed in the West as a deeply conservative doctrine designed to keep people in their places: wives had […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 6: 16th century scholarship and a 21st century obsession

by Philip Gowman 5 May 2011
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Sancheong-gun, Thursday 5 May 2011. We have a light breakfast of coffee, fruit and muffin at the pension. We are sitting outside in the sun: it is the start of a beautiful day. Mr Min arrives, and the pension owner greets him. Through the faint haze, they point out the distant peak to me: Cheonwangbong. […]

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On becoming a goodwill ambassador

by Philip Gowman 4 May 2011
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Sancheong-gun, Wednesday 4 May 2011. If I sometimes go on about the unique attractions of Sancheong County, at the foot of Jirisan in Gyeongsangnam-do, my sentiments are genuinely meant. The history, scenery, culture and special geomantic energy of the place all deserve frequent mention. But there’s an additional reason why I might mention Sancheong. For […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 5: Sanshinje by the sacred stones

by Philip Gowman 4 May 2011
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Sancheong-gun, Wednesday 4 May 2011. Today is the day when I am to be officially appointed Sancheong County’s latest goodwill ambassador, at the opening ceremony of the Sancheong Herbal Medicine Festival that evening. But first, a ritual that I had been wanting to attend since I heard about it the previous year: a sanshinje – […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 4: the private side of Sancheong

by Philip Gowman 3 May 2011
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Busan, Tuesday 3 May 2011. My head is still feeling slightly foggy from Sunday night, and my appetite has not yet returned, but at least I’m feeling well enough to tackle the Busan subway system for the first time. It’s a breeze, and soon I’m on my way to Nopodong where my friend Kyung-sook will […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 3: the hangover in Busan

by Philip Gowman 2 May 2011
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Myeongdong, Monday 2 May 2011. I wake up, fully clothed, sprawled on my hotel bed at 6am, not knowing how I got there. The previous evening had ended in a bit of a blur, as my evenings with Yi Chul-jin tend to. It had all started off in a civilised enough manner over dinner, but […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 2 (cont): Korean Rhapsody

by Philip Gowman 1 May 2011
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Seoul, Sunday 1 May 2011. The Leeum Gallery founded by the Samsung family is always a reliable place to visit in Seoul. Even if there is not an interesting special exhibition on they have a fantastic permanent collection containing some wonderful celadon and buncheong ceramics, as well as Joseon dynasty paintings, calligraphy and  Buddhist art. […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 2: the Changdeokgung and Biwon

by Philip Gowman 1 May 2011
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Seoul, Sunday 1 May 2011. In previous years I had been foiled in my attempts to get to see the famous Secret Garden behind the UNESCO-listed Changdeok Palace. Either there were building works going on, or access was only via guided tour and I had missed my slot, or some other obstacle was put in […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 1: Rain in Samcheongdong

by Philip Gowman 30 April 2011
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Myeongdong, Saturday 30 April 2011. I usually try to arrive in Korea on a Friday evening; or even, if I’m being profligate with my holiday entitlement, a Thursday evening. But my trip this year was curtailed at the front end. Why? Because at home there was a Royal festive occasion: the wedding of Prince William […]

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