While this year’s trip to Korea is still fresh in my mind, here are a few thank-yous to the many people who made the trip special. Write-ups will follow over the coming weeks, not necessarily in chronological order.
- To former LKL contributor Shin Eunjung and Tim Anderson for the splendid Gwangyang Bulgogi in, er, Gwangyang, where they are now running their private English language institute and preparing for the arrival of their firstborn
- To Younee for dinner in Insadong. It was nice to see her looking so well and hear of her new musical direction. I look forward to the arrival of the new album
- To traditional dancer Yi Chul-jin for hosting dinner in Daehakro for myself, Krys Lee and new Yonsei philosophy hire Tim Fuller. The special samgyeopsal was well worth the wait and the LP bar where we went for Icha a unique experience. Plus, the beers the following night with Lee Gwang-seok and others from Midius dance company were most refreshing. I hope the plans for Seungmu and contemporary dance at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe come to fruition, and that the performances at SIDance 2013 are successful
- To Min Young-ki and his wife for the lovely dinner of galbi jjim at their house on my first evening in Korea. It was a very special welcome.
- To Kim In-soon, Han Jungye and An Soon-yoo for dinner in Gwanghwamun and music in Hongdae on my first day in Seoul.
- To May Kim for organising my temple stay at the fascinating location of Unjusa, and to Wonsan Sunim and (in absentia) Jung Hyun Sunim for their hospitality.
- To Director Kim at the Sancheong Oriental Medicinal Herb Institute for the tasty lunch of nakji bokkeum, and for the dried doenjang which I managed to sneak through customs without incident. It made a very good jjigae. I hope the presentation to the World Health Organisation goes well.
- To Lee Jiyoon for the tea – it was nice to catch up in Seoul as we never seem to have time to meet in London – and to Park Young-bin and Park Jeong-eun for setting aside the time to meet me: it is certainly a very small world.
- To Lee Jeong-min of the Seoul Museum for the highly expert impromptu guided tour of the Park Chan-ho exhibition and the Museum’s permanent collection, all in flawless English.
- To the lady behind the counter in the Olleh / KT office in Sancheong Town for topping up my useless Evergreen prepay SIM card out of her own bank account, when it became apparent that the card cannot be topped up any other way unless you happen to be at the Premium Travel Office at Seoul Station.
- To double Chelsea gold medal winner Hwang Jihae for trying to arrange a guide for me at the Suncheon Garden Expo. It didn’t really matter that it didn’t work out. We were very happy wandering round at our own pace, and we got all the press materials we needed from the information tent at the Expo entrance.
- To the customs official at Gimhae airport immigration who waved me through despite being over the limit on duty free. I think he realised the importance of having sufficient appropriate gifts to present to one’s hosts.
- To Lee Sena for the guided tour of the Korean tent at the Expo. Enjoy the new apartment in Seoul, and I look forward to seeing it next year.
- To Sena’s mother for fixing my stay in Beopgyesa on my Jirisan hike, for the very special Kim Eul-saeng lacquer bowl and for numerous examples of hospitality during my stay.
- To the mayor and county office of Sancheong for their welcome and generosity
- To Yoon Jin-gu, without whom the stay in the recreation forest at the top of the Donguibogam Village would have been a lot less convenient, and without whom I would never have reached the peak of Jirisan for that spectacular sunrise. Thanks for taking the time on the super-busy first weekend of the Expo.
- To Baek Kyung-sook, who was instrumental in my going to Sancheong in the first place and who is a tireless advocate for the county. Thanks for taking the time to help out this troublesome foreigner on his travels in Sancheong-gun (Gyeongnam), and Suncheon-si and Hwasun-gun (Jeonnam) and for the numerous meals along the way, including the splendid hanjeongsik 한정식 in Suncheon and Sancheong Hanwoo beef bulgogi
And the things I could have managed without:
- The Korean Air pilot sleeping in the next seat to me, who managed to tip a glass of tomato juice over me, then in his flustered attempts to mop it up, tipped a glass of water over me too. (On the plus side, it was nice then to have two air hostesses fussing over me).
- The Evergreen Mobile Prepay SIM card that I bought at Gimhae airport, which was impossible to top up anywhere on the peninsula apart from Seoul Station. The top-up app didn’t work, the website didn’t work, and no convenience store would take your money.