Myths and legends

Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, 17 May 2016, 2pm. The Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival After lunch my prime objective was to see the Royal Azaleas (철쭉) on Hwangmaesan. This was the one major scenic sight of Sancheong that I had yet to witness up close.  I had been warned not to expect much, but I was surprised to see […]

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2016 travel diary 9: Busosanseong – the Baekje royal garden

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, 16 May 2016, 5:30pm. The Archaeological Site in Gwanbuk-ri Sometimes, collecting UNESCO points is not as fulfilling as it might be. The item of heritage that has been registered might not be particularly exciting to look at, even though it is historically important. But if a site is historically important you may well […]

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Brief book review: Mark James Russell — Young-hee and the Pullocho

by Philip Gowman 17 July 2015
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Mark James Russell: Young-hee and the Pullocho Tuttle Publishing, 2015, 258pp So annoying. I get sent a review copy of a work of fiction. I warn them that I probably won’t have time to read it properly, but promise to do my best to have a quick flick through it and to write a polite notice […]

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2013 Travel Diary #23: The pillow of eternal youth

by Philip Gowman 11 September 2013
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Donguibogam Village, Sancheong-gun, Wednesday 11 September, 5pm. At Korean expos, the emphasis is not on the looking. It is on the experiencing. You have to immerse yourself, to touch, to feel, to try something out. At the Sancheong International Traditional Medicine Fair and Festival, then, it was no surprise when the organisers, who had come […]

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2013 Travel Diary #22: Tiger, Bear and herb: the traditional Korean medicine experience

by Philip Gowman 11 September 2013
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Donguibogam Village, Sancheong-gun, Wednesday 11 September, 4pm. In Korean mythology, it seems that it’s not the bear that has the sore head. It’s the tiger. In the Korean Medicine Theme Park, which forms part of the Donguibogam Village, the exhibits focus on the different parts of the human body, but throughout there is the recurring […]

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2013 Travel Diary #11: Mother Mago, the Goddess of Jirisan

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Jungsan-ri, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 10:30am. It is pleasant to sit down in a comfortable seat in the cool environment of an air-conditioned car. After the hot, humid exertions on the mountain I am happy just to sit in the passenger seat not wanting any particular destination. But just outside Jungsan-ri we turn into a narrow […]

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Festival visit: Gaksi, Mago

by Philip Gowman 29 August 2011
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In Korean mytholoogy there is a legendary grandmother figure, a giant goddess who created islands and arranged the mountains and the oceans in their proper positions. In Jeju Island, she is known as Seolmundae Halmang – Grandmother Seolmundae; elsewhere in Korea she is known as Mago. The stories about her are sometimes comic, sometimes tragic. […]

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2011 Travel Diary day 7: Baek Un-cheol and Seolmundae Halmang: a lifetime’s obsession with stones and their stories

by Philip Gowman 6 May 2011
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Jeju Stone Park, Friday 6 May 2011. “I fell in love with Seolmundae Halmang, and now I can’t love any other woman” says Baek Un-cheol, honorary director of Jeju Stone Park. Maybe it explains why he is single. No earthly woman can compete in his affections with the legendary earth mother and creator of Jejudo. […]

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