Joseon Dynasty

Part of the Autumn 2018 season of seminars at SOAS: Kingdom of Pines: State Forestry and the Making of Korea, 1392-1910 John Lee (Manchester) Friday 23 November 2018, 5:15 – 7:00pm SOAS Brunei Gallery Room B211 Abstract For almost every society before the twentieth century, the forest ecosystem was the main source of fuel, construction […]

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Yi Han-eung remembered at BKS Seollal celebration

by Philip Gowman 17 March 2018
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The British Korean Society gathered on the newly refurbished top floor of the South Korean embassy yesterday for a belated celebration of Seollal, courtesy of the Deputy Head of Mission, Minister Sun Nahmkook. Apart from the generous buffet, a splendid selection of innovative cocktails and the opportunity to socialise, the highlight of the evening was […]

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Seminar: Yeoju and King Sejong the Great

by Events Editor 15 February 2018
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Late notice of a seminar about the achievements of King Sejong, and about the city of Yeoju. Yeoju has a special association with Sejong – among other things he is buried there. The seminar will be conducted by the vice-mayor of Yeoju at the Korean Cultural Centre UK. Please RSVP under this Facebook post if […]

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Book review: Frontier Contact Between Chosŏn Korea and Tokugawa Japan

by Philip Gowman 18 November 2017
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James B. Lewis: Frontier Contact Between Chosŏn Korea and Tokugawa Japan Routledge, 2003, 340pp What a relief to return to some non-fiction. And although at LKL we are wholly unqualified to review academic works, we don’t mind saying why we it is that we like a particular book. Frontier Contact paints a fascinating picture of […]

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The world’s first newspaper?

by Philip Gowman 18 April 2017
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“Why did no one inform me that this was being made?” said King Seonjo (r. 1567–1608) on 28 November 1577. Concerned “that information about the court could potentially be circulated to wider circles in the elite” the king exiled the people responsible for the news-sheet. Jieun Choi of Korea Exposé has the fascinating story. Kim […]

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Historical feature: Sejong of Korea – The Philosopher King

by Matthew Jackson 6 March 2017
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“There will be no end to the troubles of the state or indeed of humanity until philosophers become kings or until those we now call kings really and truly become philosophers.” This is one of the most famous quotations from Plato. It is taken from his work The Republic, which in attempting to set out […]

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Book Review: The Story of Hong Gildong

by Philip Gowman 18 November 2016
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Anon (attr Heo Kyun): The Story of Hong Gildong Translated with an introduction and notes by Minsoo Kang Penguin, 2016, 100pp Penguin has done us a favour by bringing us this new translation of a classic Korean tale, along with a useful introduction and notes. Hong Gildong is often described as the Korean Robin Hood […]

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The World’s First Referendum – and its aftermath

by Matthew Jackson 8 August 2016
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Korea is a country of hidden wonders. These wonders, which have remained hidden in some cases for centuries, are continually being unearthed. Many have something to teach us about the world we live in today. The Sillok – royal annals that documented every day of the Joseon dynasty for the five centuries it governed Korea […]

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2016 travel diary 19: The Scholar’s Garden #1: Yun Seon-do on Bogildo

by Philip Gowman 19 May 2016
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Bogil-do, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do, 19 May 2016, 10:30am Way back in the mid Joseon dynasty, being a scholar official was a troublesome occupation. If you were a dedicated scholar you had to act in accordance with your conscience and the highest principles. Unfortunately, as happens with whistle-blowers today, your conscience could be severely career-limiting. If you picked […]

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2016 travel diary 16: Yun Du-seo’s historic house

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Hyeonsan-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 18 May 2016, 5pm. By the time we leave the Jindo bridge area it’s past 5pm. I have a huge range of things on the itinerary that I could try to fit in, should there be time. But to rush anything would not feel right, particularly when the weather is so conducive […]

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2016 travel diary 15: Song of the Sword and Roaring Currents – the two sides of Myeongnyang

by Philip Gowman 18 May 2016
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Munnae-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do, 18 May 2016, 4:30pm. The battle of Myeongnyang, in October 1597, was Yi Sun-shin’s penultimate victory, and the last one that he came out of alive. His final victory, the Battle of Noryang, came in December 1598 in the narrow strait between Namhae and the mainland, when a stray bullet killed him. […]

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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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Song Si-yeol, the scholar with the chisel

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2016
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I have now visited three places where Joseon dynasty scholar-official Song Si-yeol has made his mark. In none of the places did I register the connection until after returning to London; in two of the places I never got to see the mark he left (there wasn’t enough time on the schedule) and in the […]

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2016 travel diary 3: Seoul’s Fortress Walls, and genre painting at the DDP

by Philip Gowman 15 May 2016
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Jongno, Seoul, Sunday 15 May 2016. The time lag has caught up with me. My intention this morning had been to go along to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza to visit the exhibition of Joseon dynasty genre paintings from the Kansong museum before joining the RASKB for a walk along the eastern sections of Seoul’s fortress […]

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Lee Joon-ik’s The Throne: a familiar tale made a believable tragedy

by Philip Gowman 22 April 2016
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The first of the KCCUK’s “Teaser Screenings” for the London Korean Film Festival 2016 took place on Monday in the presence of Director Lee Joon-ik and the recently-arrived Korean ambassador. The chosen film was The Throne (사도) – a movie which was #5 in the 2015 Korean box office and deals with an incident in […]

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Conference news: Conceptions of ‘Life’ and ‘Nature’ in Classical Discourses

by Events Editor 8 October 2015
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SOAS’s Centre of Korean Studies is presenting a one-day conference tomorrow. The event is free and open to the public – no booking is required. Conceptions of ‘Life’ and ‘Nature’ in Classical Discourses 9 October 2015, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm Venue: 21/22 Russell Square Room: T101 and T102 Programme Presentations in Korean will be […]

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In Korea, historical grievances last down the generations

by Philip Gowman 25 September 2015
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Today’s Korea Times article, Man fined for obstructing ancestral rite, is nicely timed to ensure good behaviour over the Chuseok period. But the ancestral rite Mr Kim disrupted was not any old rite. This is a family grievance that goes back to 1453 and the reign of King Sejo: The court said Kim got into […]

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