Jirisan

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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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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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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2013 Travel Diary #10: Breakfast at Beopgyesa

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Beopgyesa Temple, Jirisan, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 8:30am. Breakfast is again in the kitchen, and as usual (because I’m a foreigner unused to sitting on the floor) I’m allowed to sit with my back to the wall. I’m encouraged to stretch my legs out straight, and pummel my thighs and massage my knees, which are already […]

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2013 Travel Diary #9: Sunrise on Cheonwangbong

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2013
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Beopgyesa Temple, Jirisan, Sancheong-gun, Sunday 8 September, 4am. It’s still pitch black. In parts, the sky is thick with cloud, but one or two stars manage to find a break to peek through. We set off up the trail, I with my head torch, and Mr Yoon using the flashlight from his mobile phone (he has […]

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2013 Travel Diary #8: Prayers to the Sanshin

by Philip Gowman 7 September 2013
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Danseong-myeon, Sancheong-gun, Saturday 7 September, 4pm. After last year’s abortive attempt to get to the top of the highest mountain on mainland South Korea, I was determined to give it another go at a time of year when there was guaranteed not to be any ice on the path. As an added bonus, what would […]

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

by Philip Gowman 16 October 2012
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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 […]

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2012 Travel Diary #18: The hike to Beopgyesa

by Philip Gowman 30 September 2012
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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 […]

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

by Philip Gowman 9 October 2011
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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 […]

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The Jirisan Forest Trail

by Philip Gowman 23 August 2010
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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, […]

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