Gyeongsangnam-do

To complement their coverage of the winter Olympics, the BBC is screening what looks like an interesting documentary covering things you might not often see in coverage of the peninsula. With plenty of Korean experts advising and behind the camera, this should be well worth a watch. South Korea – Earth’s Hidden Wilderness BBC2, 8:00pm […]

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2017 travel diary 3: Sancheong – two festivals in bright pink

by Philip Gowman 1 May 2017
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Donguibogam Village, Sancheong Country, Sunday 30th April, 5pm. Each time I visit Sancheong, something has changed. This time, on the edge of Donguibogam Village, Sancheong’s centre of traditional medicine culture, a comfortable hotel has been built – as far as I am aware, the first hotel (as opposed to pension) in the county. Very convenient […]

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2017 travel diary 2: The Gaya royal tombs in Haman County

by Philip Gowman 30 April 2017
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Gaya-eup, Haman-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 30 April, 12 noon. Ever since I had seen a small ancient Gaya kingdom burial area in the hills above Saengcho, a town in Sancheong County, I had been intrigued. The tombs’ location was so different from the imposing tumuli laid out in the plains of Gyeongju or the geomantically auspicious […]

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2016 travel diary 14: Journey towards Jindo and the Myeongnyang Monument

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, Wednesday 18 May 2016, 10am Sancheong -> Sacheon -> Suncheon We say our farewells to the mayor and tourism chief at the County administrative offices. Kyung-sook is driving me to Suncheon – about 90 minutes’ leisurely drive away – so that I can meet up with Insoon. She is scheduled to arrive in […]

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2016 travel diary 13: farewell to the mayor

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, 18 May 2016, 7am The morning is bright and (because we are still in the cool of the day) refreshing. I make my regular 7:30 call back to London, and start getting myself together. Black coffee, fruit and a pastry is the breakfast. We are due to pay a visit to the mayor […]

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2016 travel diary 12: Hwangmaesan

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2016
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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 11: Buyeo National Museum and the tombs at Neungsan-ri

by Philip Gowman 17 May 2016
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Buyeo-eup, Chungcheongnam-do, 17 May 2016 10am. Buyeo National Museum Next stop was the Buyeo National Museum. Here, we were totally shameless in our visit. It was to be a precision strike: go and see the the famous Gilt Bronze Incense Burner of Baekje and get out quick: we had an appointment in Sancheong. But of […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 8: Back to school, back to Seoul

by Philip Gowman 5 June 2015
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Sancheong-gun, Friday 5 June Today I am due to say farewell to Sancheong again, but before I leave there is a treat in store: a school visit. Mr Yoon’s wife happens to teach in a primary school in Dangye Village, and she thought it might be nice for her pupils to meet a foreigner. And […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 7: A King, two generals and a gisaeng

by Philip Gowman 4 June 2015
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Sancheong-gun, Thursday 4 June Having over-indulged the previous evening, I didn’t sleep well. Although I had set the alarm to wake me up for my early morning hike, I didn’t really need it. I get up at 6am, and Kyung-sook emerges from the other room soon afterwards. We are shortly on our way along the […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 6: return to Sancheong

by Philip Gowman 3 June 2015
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Seomyeon, Busan, Wednesday 3 June Min arrives at the hotel as agreed at 9:30 and we drive to the Centum City area for a late breakfast. The venue is Yangsan Gukbap, and as with many Korean restaurants the clue to the menu is in the name of the establishment, which is open 24 hours a […]

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If aliens landed in Gyeongnam, would they think Koreans worshipped the turtle?

by Philip Gowman 10 August 2014
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Looking back at some of my travel photos, I can’t help but notice the prominence of turtles in the south of the peninsula. The symbolism of the turtle is explained briefly in the Life in Korea website as follows: While the dragon was considered the ruler of all animals, the turtle ruled over the insects. […]

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2012 Travel Diary #23: Mun Ik-jeom: dutiful son and smuggler of cotton seeds

by Philip Gowman 18 July 2014
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Sancheong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 1 April 2012. Mun Ik jeom (문익점, 文益漸) was a rare individual who was honoured by the kings of two royal dynasties, first by King U of Goryeo and second by the great Joseon King Sejong. The honour received from Sejong was posthumous, and was in recognition of what started, in […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 5: 타종식 — New beginnings

by Philip Gowman 10 June 2014
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In which we hike to Beopgyesa to cut the ribbon at the 타종식: the ceremonial first ringing of the highest temple bell in South Korea. Donguibogam Village, Sancheong-gun, Tuesday 10 June. We wake up at 5:30, dilute our espresso with boiling water from the kettle and carefully eat the cake. I have a dull feeling […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 4: The reappointment

by Philip Gowman 9 June 2014
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In which I say farewell to the retiring County mayor, meet the incoming one, and get given my first public engagement. Sancheong-yo, Sancheong-gun, Monday 9 June, 7:00am. The sleeping pill ensured that I got a good night’s sleep. And the guest bathroom, with plenty of towels, is a luxury. The day is already warm at […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 3: 사십구재

by Philip Gowman 8 June 2014
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The 49th-day ceremony (사십구재) for Sena Lee, who died in Seoul on 22 April 2014, held at Anjeoksa, Sancheon-gun, at which family and friends said farewell to her. According to dharma master Tim Lerch,  Traditionally, the period of 49 days after someone dies is seen as a time for that person to check their consciousness and digest their […]

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2014 Travel Diary day 2: Orchids for the altar

by Philip Gowman 7 June 2014
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In which we make our way to Sancheong County via a literary lunch. Haeundae Beach, Busan, Saturday 7 June, 8am. The buskers must have been singing until later than 3am. Even though my room was somewhere higher than the 10th floor, the sound insulation was so poor that they might just as well have been […]

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The Guardian hikes the Baekdu-daegan

by Philip Gowman 27 October 2013
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There’s a nice piece in The Guardian this week about hiking the Baekdu-daegan. The author starts at Cheonwangbong peak, Jirisan, in Sancheong County (Gyeongsangnam-do) and walks north, ending his hike in the Deogyusan national park in Muju County, Jeollabuk-do. Koreans have long believed that a current of life-energy, or gi, runs between [Jirisan in the […]

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