A big thank you to all those who made my recent Korea trip so special

A view from the top of Mireuksan, Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do
A view from the top of Mireuksan, Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, over the site of the battle of Hansando, in which Yi Sun-shin scored a notable naval victory over the Japanese invaders in 1592

I’ve just come back from an action-packed 10 days in Korea: contemporary art and Joseon dynasty architecture in Seoul; contemporary music, Joseon dynasty naval prowess and great scenery in Tongyeong; mountain hiking, fine Korean tea-bowls, Koryo dynasty cotton cultivation, Kaya kingdom tombs, one of highest temples in South Korea and much more in Sancheong County. And of course, fantastic food and wonderful friends everywhere. I’ll get around to writing about it all soon, but first here are some thank-yous.

Thanks to:

  • Han Hye-jung and Song Yoon-seog at the Korean embassy in London for helping to liaise with the Tongyeong International Music Festival for me.
  • Choi Ki-young at the Tongyeong International Music Festival for being my point-person there and fixing my tickets, accommodation and interviews.
  • Alexander Liebreich, artistic director of the Tongyeong International Music Festival, and Kim So-hyun, senior manager of the Tongyeong International Music Festival Foundation, for giving me their time for interviews
  • Andy St Louis of Seoul Art Fiend for the exhibition recommendations. Dansaekhwa at the National Museum of Contemporary Art was absolutely unmissable, and it was interesting to see some of Suh Do-ho’s new work at the Leeum.
  • Yi Chul-jin for dancing an updated Salpuri and treating us to the yummy smoked duck bulgogi in Daehakro, and to Charles and Yvonne Montgomery (KTLit) and Suzy Chung (Suzy in Seoul) for joining us. Thanks also to that charming but extremely drunk Korean girl who turned up to apologise for the no-show of someone even drunker, and who provided so much entertainment for us all. Sorry I wasn’t prepared to go to 이 차 – I needed to get up early next morning.
  • Suzy Chung for those Tongyeong food recommendations. Sea Squirt bibimbap is not something I would otherwise have searched out.
  • Peter Bartholomew of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, for a very informative walking tour of Seoul’s palace area. Anyone in Seoul should take advantage of the events put on by the RASKB.
  • Kang Soon-yul, Kim In-soon and Baek Kyung-sook for their companionship and interpretation skills in Seoul, Tongyeong and Sancheong respectively. This stupid foreigner wouldn’t have covered nearly so much ground without you.
  • Min Young-ki and family for their hospitality in Sancheong and for that very special gift.
  • Byun Myung-sub for the guided tour of the burial sites of Joseon dynasty royal umbilical cords in Hadong County. I can’t imagine that a lot of foreigners have seen those.
  • The freshmen of Jinju International University Eastern Philosophy programme for introducing me to the Love Shot at their spring break barbeque. My head was sore the next day.
  • The monks of Anjeoksa and Beopgyesa for some wonderful temple food
  • The governor of Sancheong County and the many people in his office and Sancheong generally for their generous consideration, help and hospitality. I hope you don’t tire of seeing your London-based goodwill ambassador. A special thank you to Yoon Jin-gu for all his time (especially escorting us up the trail to Beopgyesa), and another thank you to Baek Kyung-sook for helping to co-ordinate my time there.
  • Louise for not minding too much that I abandoned her for 10 days – or at least for pretending not to.

As usual, it wasn’t nearly enough time, but I’ll be back for more. And next time, I’ll make it all the way to Chonwangbong.

Contents
Introduction 12: Yun Isang’s music at TIMF 2012
1: Dansaekhwa – Korean Monochrome Painting at the Museum of Contemporary Art 13: Jeon Hyuck-lim, Magician of Colours
2: Suh Do-ho “Home within Home” at the Leeum 14: Mugwort pancakes and bronze age dolmen
3: Bugaksan to Daehakro 15: A visit to Min Young-ki
4: Walking the palace trail with the RASKB 16: Silla pagodas, Korea’s first beautiful village, and Nammyeong’s tomb
5: the Trip to Tongyeong 17: On hiking in Korea
6: Tongyeong harbour 18: The hike to Beopgyesa
7: Yi Sun-shin — military genius, hero, poet 19: Beopgyesa Temple and those Japanese feng-shui stakes
8: Yun Isang, Sancheong and Tongyeong 20: Rabbit Stew and Love Shots
9: Yun Isang — Victim of the Cold War 21: Seong Cheol’s birthday, Park Chan-soo’s museum and Gaya period tombs
10: Mireuksan and meonggae – a morning on Mireukdo 22: The Burial Grounds of the Royal Joseon Placentas, and why underfloor heating is not always good for you
11: The Tongyeong International Music Festival 23: Mun Ik-jeom: dutiful son and smuggler of cotton seeds
Extras
Thank yous The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
LKL in the 경남도민일보 “A Reason to Live” and “Pain”: Two lame films to avoid
Some regional foods in Tongyeong Some regional foods in Sancheong
Park Kyung-ni’s tomb in Tongyeong If aliens landed in Gyeongnam, would they think Koreans worshipped the turtle?

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