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To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea

From the publisher’s website:

This compelling and engaging book takes readers on a unique journey through China and North and South Korea. Tessa Morris-Suzuki travels from Harbin in the north to Busan in the south, and on to the mysterious Diamond Mountains, which lie at the heart of the Korean Peninsula’s crisis. As she follows in the footsteps of a remarkable writer, artist, and feminist who traced the route a century ago—in the year when Korea became a Japanese colony—her saga reveals an unseen face of China and the two Koreas: a world of monks, missionaries, and smugglers; of royal tombs and socialist mausoleums; a world where today’s ideological confrontations are infused with myth and memory. Northeast Asia is poised at a moment of profound change as the rise of China is transforming the global order and tensions run high on the Korean Peninsula, the last Cold War divide. Probing the deep past of this region, To the Diamond Mountains offers a new and unexpected perspective on its present and future.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. She is the winner of the 2013 Fukuoka Prize. To watch the author’s video about making the book, click here.


Prologue: May Day on the Yalu River
Chapter 1: On the Move: To Harbin and Hulan
Chapter 2: Manchurian Ghosts: Changchun and Shenyang
Chapter 3: Of Sacred Mountains: Liaoyang and the Thousand Peaks
Chapter 4: Borderlands: From Shanyang to Dandong
Chapter 5: Across the Bridge: To Sinuiju and beyond
Chapter 6: Diversion: On Time
Chapter 7: The New Jerusalem: Pyongyang
Chapter 8: Both Sides Now: Kaesong, Dorasan, and the Line in Between
Chapter 9: In the Palace of the Murdered Queen: Seoul
Chapter 10: Islands in the Bay: To Busan
Chapter 11: The Road to the Mountains: South from Wonsan
Chapter 12: Traveling Hopefully

LKL says:

Highly readable travel account in which the author tries to replicate the journey made by an intrepid Englishwoman, Emily Kemp, in 1910. Sadly, neither traveller saw everything they wanted to in the Diamond Mountains, Ms Kemp because her local guides were clueless, and Ms Morris-Suzuki because her itinerary was largely dictated by her official DPRK guides. Plus, of course, the spectacular temples that once embellished the mountains are no more – though Ms Morris-Suzuki tells us that the South Korean Jogye Order have some ambitious restoration plans. For LKL, the interest in this book lies in the hundred-year-old story of Ms Kemp’s travels (you can find copies of her 1911 travel account – The Face of Manchuria, Korea, & Russian Turkestanon Amazon.) and also the early part of the journey in Manchuria. We discover that the colonial Japanese government sought to promote the Diamond Mountains to foreigners as a tourist destination by mentioning the pioneering travel account by Isabella Bird Bishop – so that’s next on our reading list.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-1score-0

Entry on 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.