The World’s First ‘Active’ Greenhouse

The greenhouse is an ancient invention, dating back 2,200 years. Modern ‘active’ greenhouses are distinguished from older ‘passive’ ones by the fact that they allow for the adjustment of air and soil temperature. Previously, the first such greenhouses were believed to have been built in Germany in 1619, using a stove to regulate air temperature, […]

Korea – The Antifragile Kingdom

Editor’s note: every now and then Matthew Jackson submits a cracking article from out of nowhere. Here’s one such article which, if I may paraphrase, wonders whether maybe han is healthy. I hope it’s not too long before the next one! The author and philosopher Nicholas Nassim Taleb (of ‘Black Swan’ fame) developed a concept […]

The Confused Westerner’s Response to K-Pop

Have you read the Wikipedia article on K-pop? It’s really, really long. Seriously, I did not know most of that stuff. When you next have a sufficiently large mug of tea, I highly recommend giving it a read. Changing tack, did you see the article on Yahoo about K-pop? It’s shorter, and chimes with a […]

Korean Naval Firepower Part 2 – Koryo and Columbus

Choi Mu-seon was not the inventor of heavy artillery, although he made many innovative variations of the concept. Why did other countries not simply take their cannons and heavy firearms with them on board their ships? The problem with a wooden ship is, if its displacement is sufficiently small, the recoil of a heavy weapon […]

Reading the Heavens Part 3 – The Astronomical Legacy of King Sejong

As mentioned in part 1, King Sejong presided over the zenith of Korean astronomical achievement. The construction of a large observatory at Gyeongbok Palace in 1438 – later destroyed without a trace in the Japanese invasion – played a key role in the country’s progress. On the roof were installed various astronomical instruments such as […]

Festival Film Review: Blood, Sweat, Tears and Laughter – ‘Yellow Sea’ has it all

While on a visit to Korea, I once asked a wise, old-looking Korean how he would describe the spirit of the Korean people. My friend who was interpreting answered the question instead, to my initial annoyance, giving the answer ‘Fun’, which I found doubly disappointing given its apparent banality. Several years on, I am beginning […]