Navy ensign George Foulk made a 900-mile journey through southern Korea during which he kept a detailed record of everything he observed and experienced. This travel diary, part of the George Clayton Foulk collection in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, has been almost entirely overlooked by scholars and yet is of inestimable value. First, it is an account of a trip no Westerner had ever undertaken before or would ever experience again: a long-distance sedan chair journey in the manner of a Choson-dynasty government official. Containing his private thoughts, penned in the heat of the moment, Foulk’s diary is immediate, raw, and honest, laying bare his experience. It gives readers is a superbly descriptive and perceptive record of Korea. Inside the Hermit Kingdom stands unique as a firsthand account of the kingdom of Choson in its pristine condition, before the intrusion of the outside world.
Samuel J. Hawley is assistant professor of practical English at Yonsei University.
Source: publisher’s website