Travel Diaries 2012: music, mugwort and monochrome

The 2012 LKL Korea Trip was designed to coincide with the Tongyeong International Music Festival. Fortunately, there was also an excellent exhibition of Monochrome / Dansaekhwa art on at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art to distract me in Seoul; and it was mugwort season in Tongyeong and Sancheong. Skip to the Introduction here.

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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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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2012 Travel Diary #22: The Burial Grounds of the Royal Joseon Placentas, and why underfloor heating is not always good for you

by Philip Gowman 3 December 2012
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Sancheong Town, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 1 April 2012. Yes, it’s 1 April, and no, this article is not an April Fool’s joke. Sunday in Sancheong town, and the National Assembly election campaign is in full swing. All along the main street, the ppongtchak trucks are parked nose to tail, probably about eight of them. All of […]

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2012 Travel Diary #21: Seong Cheol’s birthday, Park Chan-soo’s museum and Gaya period tombs

by Philip Gowman 26 November 2012
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Sancheong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, Saturday 31 March 2012. The impact of the love shots is still fogging my brain when Mr Yoon arrives at 9:30 in the morning. Today, he is accompanied by his wife, who is to join us for the morning. It is, after all, a Saturday, so Mr Yoon is working overtime on […]

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2012 Travel Diary #20: Rabbit Stew and Love Shots

by Philip Gowman 7 November 2012
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Beopgyesa, Sancheong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, Friday 30 March 2012. The ice on the mountain trail the previous day had given me metaphorical cold feet about proceeding upwards beyond Beopgyesa to Jirisan’s summit. During the night, the wind and rain outside our comfortable cabin in the temple compound confirmed the decision that we would head downhill, rather […]

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2012 Travel Diary #19: Beopgyesa Temple and those Japanese feng-shui stakes

by Philip Gowman 16 October 2012
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Beopgyesa Temple (법게사) is the highest in Sancheong County and at least the third-highest in Korea. The good people of Sancheong believe that Beopgyesa is the highest temple in South Korea, a claim which is supported by Beopgyesa’s entry on the Cultural Heritage Administration website, where the following text is to be found: “It is […]

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2012 Travel Diary #18: The hike to Beopgyesa

by Philip Gowman 30 September 2012
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Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. The road through Jungsan-ri stops in a car park beyond which are the Jirisan National Park office and a barrier across the road. Jungsan-ri is the start of the shortest (but not necessarily the gentlest) trail to Cheonwanbong, Jirisan’s highest peak. We are permitted to proceed through the barrier, shaving […]

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2012 Travel Diary #17: On hiking in Korea

by Philip Gowman 21 September 2012
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Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. “Have you got proper hiking boots?” That’s the standard question from concerned Koreans when I told them I was going to walk up Jirisan. I was familiar with the Korean custom of dressing properly for hiking. You can’t miss the hikers on the subway, and indeed heading out to Gwacheon […]

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2012 Travel Diary #16: Silla pagodas, Korea’s first beautiful village, and Nammyeong’s tomb

by Philip Gowman 19 September 2012
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Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. Today is the day we start the ascent of Jirisan, but first there’s a couple of local sites of interest that I need to visit. First, the two Unified Silla dynasty stone pagodas, which are now the only remnants of Dansoksa, a temple built in the middle of the eighth […]

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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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2012 Travel Diary #14: Mugwort pancakes and bronze age dolmen

by Philip Gowman 25 June 2012
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Tongyeong and Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Wednesday 28 March 2012. It’s time to leave Tongyeong, and head off to Sancheong, where I have happily spent much of my time in Korea in recent years. We set off along the main Tongyeong to Seoul expressway, which passes alongside the Gyeonghogang river and thus cuts through the heart of Sancheong […]

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2012 Travel Diary 13: Jeon Hyuck-lim, Magician of Colours

by Philip Gowman 22 June 2012
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Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Wednesday 28 March 2012. It’s my last morning in Tongyeong, and like the previous two days, the air is crisp, the sky clear and the sea calm. I wish I could stay longer. There is an inviting jogging track, starting at the Chungmu Marina Resort, which takes you some of the way along the […]

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Some regional foods in Tongyeong

by Philip Gowman 16 June 2012
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Korea is a foodie paradise, and while you can get by very nicely on bibimbap and bulgogi, there’s so much more to discover. Here’s some of the treats I discovered down south on my recent trip – and thanks to Suzy in Seoul for some of the recommendations for Tongyeong, given over some splended smoked […]

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2012 Travel Diary 12: Yun Isang’s music at TIMF 2012

by Philip Gowman 12 June 2012
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Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Tuesday 27 March 2012. Just how popular is Yun Isang’s music? At best, it’s an acquired taste, and one which I have yet to acquire, though I do know people who say they like it. In conversation with Alexander Liebreich, artistic director of the Tongyeong International Music Festival since 2011 and chief conductor of […]

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2012 Travel Diary 11: The Tongyeong International Music Festival

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2012
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Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Tuesday 27 March 2012. The Yun Isang Memorial Hall is a short walk from the ferry terminal which serves Tongyeong’s outlying islands. I had come there to attend a symposium attended by the two composers-in-residence and the Musical Director of the Tongyeong International Music Festival, which is now in its 10th year. It grew […]

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