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 Culture, but it was even more tiring because of the numerous late night drinking sessions which seal new friendships. I particularly apologise to those friends I met last Monday in Busan for my subdued condition caused by overindulgence in Daehakro the previous evening.
This year, the trip encompassed a couple of big modern art exhibitions in Seoul, a return to Sancheong County in the Jirisan area of Gyeongsangnam-do, where I was introduced to some more of the attractions of this special place, and had the honour of being appointed their goodwill ambassador. I also had a couple of days in Jeju-do being introduced to an ancient creation legend, learning about their unique tombs, visiting the fascinating and thought-provoking Stone Park, singing some Jeju Minyo after rather too much soju and makgeolli, tasting some unique food and visiting a gallery in Sogwipo dedicated to one of Korea’s best-known artists, Lee Joong-seob, who died at the tragically early age of 40 in 1956.
I’ve also been trying to acquaint myself with Korean gardens, in preparation for the Korean garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year.
As usual, I was met with great hospitality and generosity, and am grateful to my hosts and guides.
Because I did not have a full-time interpreter, 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. In the meanwhile in honour of Buddha’s birthday here are the lanterns at the entrance to Beomeosa in Busan, where I strolled with Grand Narrative blogmeister James Turnbull last Monday.