Return to Seoul

The final installments of LKL’s trip to Korea at the beginning of May Saturday 8 May 2010. We are back in Seoul in good time. At the start of the week, I hadn’t known what my Sancheong schedule was going to look like: my friend Kyung-sook had managed to secure an extra day or so […]

The Last King of Gaya

Korea is rightly proud of its heritage, and submits the most select elements of its long history to UNESCO for inscribing in the list of important world heritage items. One of the most recent items to have been so listed is the Joseon Dynasty Royal Tombs. They are beautifully peaceful places to visit. Perfectly manicured […]

The Jirisan Forest Trail

Jirisan is the highest peak on the South Korean mainland, and the National Park in which it is set is South Korea’s largest. Most of the park is in Gyeongsangnam-do, but in the west it spills in to Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do. For walkers, the park offers a wide variety of experiences. For the hardened hiker, […]

Makgeolli, maeuntang and a fashion show

We sit outside in a pavilion overlooking the river as the sun goes down over the hamlet of Saengcho in the north of Sancheong County, picnicking on tiny deep-fried fish with the usual kimchi side dishes, all washed down with makgeolli. We are waiting for the rest of our party to arrive. Morgan and Yoseph […]

A visit to Sancheong’s finest potter

In 1592, Japan invaded Korea. Their ultimate destination was China, but they never got further than Korea, and they wrought havoc there. During their occupation, which lasted on and off until their second invasion in 1598 was repelled by Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s famous turtle ships, they sent back to Japan in their ships a human […]

Remembering Seong Cheol Sunim

What is Buddhism all about? I confess to knowing very little. One night of temple stay, and browsing round a few exhibitions of Buddhist art, does not qualify as a proper introduction. In Daewonsa, Neunghae Sunim took a pleasingly laid back approach to the Buddhist life. “Don’t rush things” and “Enjoy yourself” seemed to be […]

The Beautiful Walls of Namsa-ri

In the week that Hahoe folk village near Andong was admitted to the UNESCO heritage list, LKL recalls a visit to Namsa-ri, a less-visited but equally impressive hanok village. Friday 7 May 2010. After our visit to the Nambugun memorial museum we were feeling in sombre mood. But fortunately, lunch comes to the rescue. Sancheong […]

Remembering the struggle against the partisans

Sancheong County, nestling at the feet of Jirisan in Gyeongsangnam-do, has two memorial museums to the struggle between the leftist partisans and the Southern military and civilian authorities at the time of the Korean War. The key headlines of the conduct of the Korean War itself are well known: the Northern sweep southwards, the UN […]

Daewonsa – the 108 Bows

Thursday 6 May. The time has arrived for the 108 bows. Strangely, we are told to meet in the car park. But that’s where a large side chapel has recently been built, mainly to minister to visitors on the temple stay programme. The chapel at the moment has none of the internal decoration of the […]

Daewonsa – the magic at sundown

Thursday 6 May 2010. A monk sits in the corner of the room, brewing yellow tea, while we sit on the floor around the main table. Perfectly ripe fruits are laid out in front of us, including some of Sancheong’s famous strawberries. The conversation rumbles on, I’m not sure about what, because it was all […]

Arrival at Daewonsa

Thursday 6 May 2010. We drive up a winding road, through woodland on the side of a valley until we arrive in the car park of Daewonsa Temple, in the foothills of Jirisan mountain. We are met in the car park by a monk well known to our local guide. “She’s my favourite monk,” he […]

2010 Travel Diary #22: A sense of direction

Thursday 6 May 2010. I’m somewhat stiff from sleeping on the floor. Throughout the night different parts of my body were suffering from pins and needles. But the location was peaceful, and I get up rested. Overnight rain has made everything seem greener, but low cloud clinging to the hilltops and wisps of mist rolling […]