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Tue, October 3, 2023 | 07:06
Bears of Joseon part 2: Behind bars
In the past, wild animals, including bears, were occasionally raised for entertainment and sport within the Korean palace grounds. In 1394, King Taejo received a small bear cub and raised it in the palace garden - whether it lived a long and happy life is unknown but surely it fared better than the bears brought to the palace under King (later demoted to Prince) Yeonsangun in...
Bears of Joseon part 1: Fanciful tales and deadly claws
In the late 19th century, Korea was a land filled with danger. Banditry was common, disease was prevalent, demons and ghosts haunted people’s imaginations and beliefs (Korean and foreigners alike), and fierce wild beasts roamed the desolate mountains and forests. Tigers (and their smaller cousins, the leopards) were probably the most feared but they were not the only dangers ...
Gangmae Village: Bridging the past with the present
If you are a bicyclist in Seoul and enjoy riding on the northern bank of the Han River near Haengju Mountain Fortress, you are probably aware of Gangmae Village and its surrounding fields of rapeseed flowers and rice paddies - but if not, you are truly missing a wonderful opportunity to temporarily step back in time.
Korean criminals make Americans grow more vigilant despite Joseon curfew in 1885
When Percival Lowell, an American, wrote about his stay in Seoul in the winter of 1883-84, he frequently mentioned the curfew that was imposed at night and how it contributed to the safety of the city's residents. One night at midnight, while sitting alone in his room, he poetically described nocturnal Seoul.
Gyeonghuigung - a palace of water and prayers
Although Henry Savage Landor found Gyeonghui Palace intriguing with its tales of ghosts and occasional sightings of leopards and tigers, he did not find it to be a Palace of Serene Harmony. In fact, he found it deafening as he and his hosts, the Greathouses, were subjected to the “most diabolical noises” made by “several men and numberless children” as they beat on huge drums...
Gyeonghuigung: a foreigner's account
Arguably, one of the least known and appreciated palaces in Seoul is Gyeonghuigung - the Palace of Serene Harmony. Despite being within walking distance of city hall and located right next door to the Seoul Museum of History, it is rare to see more than a handful of people - especially tourists - wandering through the serenity of the palace grounds.
Evans' visit to Seoul: part 2
When Admiral Robley D. Evans of the United States Navy visited Seoul on Aug. 8, 1902, he was very impressed with the American Legation. He described Horace Allen's residence as being “a charming, refined house full of exquisite old things.” He was undoubtedly correct. Allen was known for his various Korean collections (mainly pottery) and for his tendency to gossip. I can eas...
Admiral Robley Evans' visit to Seoul in 1902: Part 1
In early August 1902, Horace N. Allen, the American minister to Korea, received a message from Admiral Robley D. Evans informing him that the American fleet would arrive in Jemulpo (modern Incheon) on Aug. 6. The admiral added that he would appreciate it if Allen could arrange for him and his naval officers to have an audience with the Korean emperor on the following day. All...
Bar fights and Russian spies: Just another day at Daibutsu Hotel
There is an old saying that in wine there is truth but often one man's truth is merely an opinion that would be better kept to himself. Unfortunately, alcohol also inspires people to want to share their truths with everyone around them - often in a loud voice.
Beer arrives in 19th-century Joseon
For many people, crispy fried chicken and ice-cold beer are just as much a part of the Korean summer as are the heat and humidity. Beer is extremely popular here - so popular that in 2022, the average Korean adult consumed 83 bottles of beer a year. Korea clearly has an affinity with beer, but it is a fairly recent one.