LKL book database logo

Books on travel and geography

Here are some of our favourite Korean travel books. Of course, there’s the regularly updated guides by Lonely Planet and other publishers, but the ones below are the ones you might not otherwise have thought about. Titles are sorted in date of publication in English translation, most recent first.

BookCover image

A Korean Odyssey: Island Hopping in Choppy Waters
Michael Gibb
Camphor Press, 2020

Publisher description: 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 […] (Link to online store)

A Place to Live: A New Translation of Yi Chung-hwan’s T’aengniji
Yi Chung-hwan tr Inshil Choe Yoon
University of Hawai'i Press, 2018

Full title: A Place to Live: A New Translation of Yi Chung-hwan’s T’aengniji, the Korean Classic for Choosing Settlements From the publisher’s website: A Place to Live brings together in a single volume an introduction to Yi Chung-hwan’s (1690–1756) T’aengniji (Treatise on Choosing Settlement)—one of the most widely read and influential of the Korean classics—and an annotated translation […] (Link to online store)

See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea
Travis Jeppesen
Hachette Books, 2018

From ballistic missile tests to stranger-than-fiction stories of purges and assassinations, news from North Korea never fails to dominate the global headlines. But what is life there actually like? In See You Again in Pyongyang, Jeppesen culls from his experiences living, traveling, and studying in North Korea to create a multi-faceted portrait of the country […] (Link to online store)

Classical Writings of Korean Women
Kim Keum-won, Trad / anon tr Kyung-Nyun Kim Richards, Steffen F Richards
LTI Korea, 2016

This work is a collection of essays travelogues written by women during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The work ranges from a eulogy for a broken needle to a travelogue describing various trips to scenic spots on the Korean peninsula, including to the Keum-Gang Mountains. Now available in English, this collection gives us a sampler of […] (Link to eBook / PDF / online text)

Korea (Seoul Selection Guides)
Robert Koehler
Seoul Selection, 2013

Publisher description: With 5,000 years of history and culture packed into one very tight package, Korea is a fascinating travel destination that both compares and contrasts favourably with its larger neighbours. From the pulsating streets of Seoul to the peaceful temples and gardens of the Korean countryside, Korea is a study in contrasts—one foot in […] (Link to online store)

Seoul (Seoul Selection Guides)
Robert Koehler
Seoul Selection, 2011

Publisher description: Korea’s capital for the last 600 years, Seoul is an energetic, pulsating city where the ancient and modern coexist in dramatic contrast. With its grand royal palaces, quaint old alleyways, ancient temples, colorful markets, neon shopping districts, and verdant mountains, you’ll never run out of things to see and do. The most comprehensive […] (Link to online store)

Royal Ancestors and Ancient Remedies: a brief journey through Korea’s heritage
Philip Gowman
Korean Culture and Information Service, 2011

Publisher description: A Korea enthusiast commits himself to a week in Korea to attend the nation’s most solemn Confucian ceremony in honour of the Royal Ancestors, and to do some high-minded interviews with cultural figures to give him material for his London-based Korean culture website. Everyone tells him he will be bored out of his […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

A Slow Walk through Jeong-dong
Michael Gibb
Hollym, 2011

Publisher description: When most people travel, they try to cover too much and rush around cities and countries, ticking off boxes: Seen that, done that.  Instead, you can have a rewarding time in a single place, not rushing around.  Slow Walk through Jeong-dong shows you how to take things slow and focus your mind on the details. In this essay, […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Baekdu-Daegan Trail: Hiking Korea’s Mountain Spine
Andrew Douch, David A Mason, Roger Shepherd
Seoul Selection, 2010

Publisher description: The Baekdu-daegan chain of mountains forms the backbone of the Korean Peninsula. It has always occupied a very special place in the hearts of Koreans. More than just a series of rocky ranges, it is the source of the life and dynamic energy of the Korean people and shelters many of their cultural […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Meeting Mr Kim: Or How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi
Jennifer Barclay
Summersdale, 2008

Publisher description: The world knows more about secret North Korea than the free society of the South. As a peace summit heralded a new era for a country divided for 50 years, Jennifer Barclay searched for the spirit of South Korea, discovering a land full of passion, tradition and spirituality, good humor, and great food. […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Life on the Edge of the DMZ
Lee Si-woo tr Kim Myung-hee
Global Oriental, 2008

Publisher’s description: The author’s celebrated quest to capture today’s built and natural environment and way of life along the DMZ, separating the two Koreas, is both a stunning literary and photographic achievement. Supported by 150 colour photographs, the book by one of Korea’s renowned photographers takes the reader from Chulwon in the east to Kosung […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Guy Delisle
Jonathan Cape, 2006

Publisher description: Famously referred to as one of the “Axis of Evil” countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortress-like country. While living in the nation’s capital for […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Hamel’s Journal And A Description Of The Kingdom Of Korea 1653-1666
Hendrik Hamel tr Br Jean-Paul Buys
RASKB, 1994

Publisher’s description: The first Western account of Korea is the story of a group of sailors shipwrecked on Cheju-do. Some thirteen years later, after escaping to Japan, Hamel gave the outside world a firsthand description of Korea, an almost unknown country until then. Dr. Jean-Paul, who is Dutch, has made the first translation based on […] (Link to online store)

To Dream of Pigs: Travels in South and North Korea
Clive Leatherdale
Desert Island Books, 1994

Publisher description: The scariest place on earth.’ So said President Bill Clinton on his visit to the no-man’s land between South and North Korea in 1993. With the end of the Cold War in Europe, the minefields and barbed wire that divide the two Koreas constitute the jagged edge of world peace. If the world […] (Link to online store)

Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles
Simon Winchester
Penguin, 1988

Publisher description: In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea – from its southern tip to the North Korean border – in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land. Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, […] (Link to online store)