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A Korean Odyssey: Island Hopping in Choppy Waters

Publisher: , 2020
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

Michael Gibb embarks on an eccentric odyssey around the wind-swept islands off the coast of South Korea in search of life beyond K-pop, high-tech gadgetry and nuclear missile tests. With well over three thousand islands to choose from, there was no shortage of destinations, all connected by the indomitable ferries that ply these choppy waters. From the fog-bound isles within hailing distance of North Korea to the charms of the southern archipelagos and the rocky outcrops deep in the lonely East Sea, Gibb discovers a region of Asia unjustly ignored by travelers.

Gibb, a Korean speaker, encounters a cast of fascinating characters on his voyages: villagers who call these far-flung islands home, gnarled sea dogs crewing the ferries, gambling grannies, conscripts on desolate outposts, fishermen, rampaging tourist hordes, and poetry-loving taxi drivers. The journey packs in enough stories from maritime history, myths, culture, literature and politics to fill a ship’s cargo holds.

A former Seoul-based journalist and author of A Slow Walk Through Jeong-dong, a history of one of Seoul’s most intriguing neighborhoods, Gibb reveals a country that is both rapidly changing but firmly rooted in tradition and the past, one that’s often in the news but rarely understood.

“Michael Gibb’s wonderfully engaging new book gives voice to the neglected history and culture of the islands peppered around the shoreline of the Korean peninsula. No other author in English has written so well and so lyrically about Korea.”
—M.A. Aldrich, author of The Search for a Vanishing Beijing and Ulaanbaatar beyond Water and Grass.

LKL says:

The book is an easy, enjoyable read, conveniently divided up into bite-sized chapters of an island each. Read one or two in bed each night before turning out the lights. For the next few months the only travel in Korea you’re going to be doing is virtual, and this is a really pleasant way to do it.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-2score-2. Read our review of this book here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.