Monthly Archives: January 2011

Book Reviews hiking Korean culture links shopping Stories, legends & people websites

Book Reviews: Winter Reading from Seoul Selection Bookstore

Front cover of “Korean Tea Classics”

Front cover of “Korean Tea Classics”

Seems like it’s been ages since I’ve posted any book reviews here on the blog.  But last month I scored a passel of books from Seoul Selection Online Bookshop for a bit of light reading over winter vacation.   Not to get to promotional here (and no, I’m not getting paid for this), but if you’re looking for books about Korea, Seoul Selection is a great resource.   They have a knack for carrying a lot of books that simply are not available on Amazon or whatthebook.com, not to mention they self-publish a lot of titles which sell for very reasonable prices.  So without further adieu, here are a few books that might help you while away your time in front of the space heater this winter:

“Korean Tea Classics” by Hanjae Yi Mok and the Venerable Cho-ui:  Ever since my friend and local tea aficionado, Don Baumhart, published his two-part introduction to the Way of Tea in Korea here on this blog, I’ve made a point of exploring more of Korean and East-Asian tea culture.  Turns out this year Seoul Selection has made the timely decision to publish English translations three classic Korean tomes on tea and tea culture:  “Rhapsody to Tea” by Hanjae Yi Mok (1471 – 1498) and “A Chronicle of the Spirit of Tea” and “Hymn in Praise of Korean Tea” both by the Venerable Cho-ui (1786 – 1866).  In fact it was Ven. Cho-ui who earned himself the nick-name Dasan or “Tea Mountain” was responsible of the revival and restoration of the tea ceremony in Korea.  Translated by Brother Anthony of Taize (author of “The Korean Way of Tea” ) among others, this book is not simply a dry, academic  translation of obscure historical texts.  Rather it is an object de art itself, with impeccable design and choke full of beautiful color pictures of tea, ceramics, temples and ancient paintings.   Plus, for students of classical Chinese, the original “Hanja” is printed alongside the English.   Not merely an obtuse historical artifact, this book would be of interest to anyone with a love for Asian tea culture, and of course it’s a lovely accompaniment to a lazy afternoon sipping tea. read more »

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Andong Events Festivals Gyeongju holidays Korean culture Pohang tips for tourists Top 10

Top 10 Events Around Gyeongju in 2011

Daeboreum Full Moon Bonfire Festival 2010

Daeboreum Full Moon Bonfire Festival 2010

It seems like local events have a way of sneaking up on me around here.  I try my best, but I have a way of hearing about them right before, or worse, just after they happen.  As my New Year’s resolution is to get a head of things for a change, here’s a list of my top 10 local events to look forward to during the next year:

1. Daeboreum (대보름) Full Moon Bonfire Festival: Slated this year for Thursday Feb. 17th, Daeboreum celebrates the first full moon after Solnal (설날), or the Lunar New Year.  If it’s anything like years past, the city government will set up a huge bonfire in the parking lot by the river, across from the Express (시위) Bus Terminal.  Around 5:30 or 6:00 pm they’ll light up the bonfire, and while it burns people play “gangang  sulae” (강강수래) folk games and sing songs.  It’s a fun evening out so bring your camera or just come and join in the games. read more »

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Blog News Food & drink restaurants tips for tourists

Blog News: New Map and Page for Gyeongju Restaurant Reviews


View Gyeongju Restaurant Reviews on Gyeongjublog.com in a larger map

As I’ve gotten up to 16 restaurant reviews here on the blog, I decided to put up a permanent page listing them all in one place with links.  I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but you can check it out here.  I’ll be updating the list every time I post a new restaurant review.  Likewise, I’ve put together a Google ™ map with all of the restaurants I’ve reviewed (see above), which I’ll also be updating as I go along.

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Food & drink restaurants Seonggeon-dong tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #16: Chowon Samgyetang (초원삼계탕)

Chowon Samgyetang Restaurant, Gyeongju

Chowon Samgyetang Restaurant, Gyeongju

Few local foods beat the chill of Korean winters quite like samgyetang (삼계탕).  If you’ve not had the pleasure, samgyetang is a Korean ginseng chicken stew that’s warm, hearty and filling.   The stew is served in individual bowls with an entire chicken (minus the head thankfully) in each.  The chicken itself is stuffed with rice, ginseng, jujubes and assorted nuts and boiled until tender in a savory broth.   Samgyetang has mild flavor so you’re welcome to add salt and gochujang, or hot pepper sauce, to taste.  I dump in a lot of both, but that’s just me. read more »

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Gyeongju hiking history Korean culture Stories, legends & people tips for tourists Wierd Gyeongju

Wierd Gyeongju: Queen Seondeok and the Legend of Vagina Valley (여근곡)

Map of Yeogeungok Valley, Mt. Obongsan

Map of Yeogeungok Valley, Mt. Obongsan

Yup, you read that right.  About 17 km west of Gyeongju on the north face of Mt. Obongsan (오봉산) is a little valley that goes by the name of Yeogeungok (여근곡).  This literally means “Jade Gate” Valley which, you might not have known, is actually a euphemism for female genitalia.  Just why the ancient Koreans dubbed this valley just that is clear to anyone with a basic knowledge of human anatomy and a bit of imagination. read more »

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Festivals history Music & dance Outside Gyeongju Stories, legends & people videos

Video: Chajeon Nori (차전놀이)- The Juggernaut Game of Andong

To ring in the New Year I thought I’d share some video I shot at last year’s Andong Mask Dance Festival.  On its last Sunday the festival hosts a traditional folk game from Andong called Chajeon Nori (차전놀이) which literally means “Combat Carriage Game.”  It sometimes goes by the more impressive moniker “Juggernaut Battle Game” and it’s one of the cooler things I’ve seen in Korea. read more »

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