London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

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Selected publications

2012 Travel Diary #22: The Burial Grounds of the Royal Joseon Placentas, and why underfloor heating is not always good for you

Sancheong Town, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 1 April 2012. Yes, it’s 1 April, and no, this article is not an April Fool’s joke. Sunday in Sancheong town, and the National Assembly election campaign is in full swing. All along the main street, the ppongtchak trucks are parked nose to tail, probably about eight of them. All of … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary #20: Rabbit Stew and Love Shots

Beopgyesa, Sancheong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, Friday 30 March 2012. The ice on the mountain trail the previous day had given me metaphorical cold feet about proceeding upwards beyond Beopgyesa to Jirisan’s summit. During the night, the wind and rain outside our comfortable cabin in the temple compound confirmed the decision that we would head downhill, rather … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary #19: Beopgyesa Temple and those Japanese feng-shui stakes

Beopgyesa Temple (법게사) is the highest in Sancheong County and at least the third-highest in Korea. The good people of Sancheong believe that Beopgyesa is the highest temple in South Korea, a claim which is supported by Beopgyesa’s entry on the Cultural Heritage Administration website, where the following text is to be found: “It is … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary #18: The hike to Beopgyesa

Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. The road through Jungsan-ri stops in a car park beyond which are the Jirisan National Park office and a barrier across the road. Jungsan-ri is the start of the shortest (but not necessarily the gentlest) trail to Cheonwanbong, Jirisan’s highest peak. We are permitted to proceed through the barrier, shaving … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary #17: On hiking in Korea

Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. “Have you got proper hiking boots?” That’s the standard question from concerned Koreans when I told them I was going to walk up Jirisan. I was familiar with the Korean custom of dressing properly for hiking. You can’t miss the hikers on the subway, and indeed heading out to Gwacheon … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary #16: Silla pagodas, Korea’s first beautiful village, and Nammyeong’s tomb

Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Thursday 29 March 2012. Today is the day we start the ascent of Jirisan, but first there’s a couple of local sites of interest that I need to visit. First, the two Unified Silla dynasty stone pagodas, which are now the only remnants of Dansoksa, a temple built in the middle of the eighth … [Read More]

A visit to Min Young-ki

When I visited Sancheong for the first time in 2010 one of the items on my agenda was a visit to Sancheong’s finest potter – and indeed Korea’s most renowned tea-bowl maker – Min Young-ki (민영기). Unfortunately owning to a diary mixup Min Senior was not there, and instead I had a very pleasant meeting … [Read More]

Some regional foods in Sancheong

Sancheong: the name of the county literally means Mountain Purity. So the foods of the region use ingredients from the mountains – especially fresh herbs – and the clean rivers. Here are some of the foods I have sampled during the course of a few visits to the county: Fruits While fruits are not unique … [Read More]

2012 Travel Diary 8: Yun Isang, Sancheong and Tongyeong

Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Monday 26 March 2012. The day has been devoted mainly to exploring some of the Joseon dynasty naval history in which Tongyeong played its part. But we’re also in Tongyeong to attend the Tongyeong International Music Festival, focusing on concerts which have music by Tongyeong’s most famous musical son, composer Yun Isang. In … [Read More]

Donguibogam: Prevention before Treatment

The Donguibogam is a medical encyclopedia written by Heo Jun (1539-1615), a royal physician and renowned doctor, in the 16th to 17th century. People often say there has been no traditional Korean medicine (TKM) doctor greater than him since. The encyclopedia was registered at UNESCO as part of the ‘Memory of the World’ register in … [Read More]

When “going to the valleys” is not a good idea

Many languages have all sorts of euphemisms for death. “He’s gone to meet his maker”, “He’s pushing up the daisies” are a couple of the expressions in English. In Korean, there’s the picturesque phrase “He’s gone to the valleys.” The valleys in question are in the Jirisan region of South Gyeongsang province. Jirisan has always … [Read More]

Highlights of the Thames Festival

The Sookmyung Gayageum Orchestra playing Wondergirls and SNSD. And their amazing body-popping dancer The Kukkiwon Taekondo demo team performing in the pouring rain. Amazing that no-one broke their neck The crazy K-pop lovers in their noraebang tent singing along to their favourite K-pop tunes The amazing enthusiasm & energy of the seemingly hundreds of young … [Read More]