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RAS Korea January Newsletter

Dear members and friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch

I hope that you are all enjoying the start of a good new year, depite the cold and snow? On behalf of the Officers and Council I would like to express our gratitude for your constant support and encouragement during the past year. We will do our best to provide a rewarding program of activities during the coming months. My term of office as President expired yesterday, at the end of 2012, but the Council has asked me to serve for another 2 years so you will continue to receive these messages from me. I am always grateful for the enthusiasm of our Council members and office staff, without them our 'RAS Korea' could not exist.

I will try to compose a slightly more detailed annual report in the coming weeks and send it out when it is ready.

The start of the year is the moment when many of you will be invited to renew your membership for another year. It is no secret that our Society needs your contributions in order to operate. I do not think we could survive without an office and staff. Perhaps some of you who are in Korea for a longer period would like to consider becoming Life Members? That corresponds to 10 years of ordinary membership and represents a significant financial help. Talking of money, we have decided to ask non-members attending our lectures to pay KW 7,000. Several people have told us that KW 5,000 is too little. Of course, once a non-member becomes a member, the lectures are free!

This winter is proving to be exceptionally cold and snowy. I hope that you will not be discouraged by the weather from signing up for the excursions we have prepared for the coming 2 months. I feel sure that the snow will melt before long and often the sunshine in winter has a magical quality to it that transforms the winter landscapes.

Very soon the renovation of our office will be complete, making a visit a much more pleasant experience. Soon I will be writing to you about a planned book sale, and also about exciting new developments regarding our Library. We are also preparing new plans for the Reading Group, the Photograpy Group and the National Museum visits. More soon !

Again, I would like to invite you to send us suggestions for lectures, excursions, or other activities that you would enjoy. We are in need of volunteers to lead excursions as well as to help us with some administrative tasks, and we want you to feel that being a member of RAS Korea is something worthwhile and rewarding.

Finally, please note that the first lecture this year will be on the 3rd Tuesday, January 15, because the room is not available for the 2nd Tuesday. We are always most grateful to the management of Somerset Palace for allowing us to use their Residents' Lounge as they do.

Again, a very happy New Year to each of you. May 2013 be a year of new hope and of peace in Korea and across the world.

Most sincerely,

Brother Anthony
President, RAS Korea

Lectures for January 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 7:30pm
Letters From Joseon: 19th Century Korea through the Eyes of an American Ambassador's Wife
Lecturer: Robert Neff
This lecture will examine Korea - as seen through the eyes of Sally Sill, the wife of John M. B. Sill - the American Minister to Korea (1894–1897). Their stay in Seoul was during an extremely turbulent period of Korean history, and Robert has just published a fascinating book drawing on personal documents and correspondence between the Sills in Korea and their family in the United States. Copies of the book will be on sale at a special price!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 7:30pm
Calm and Dynamic: Two Differing Aesthetic Aspects of Korean Traditional Music
Lecturer: Professor Sheen Dae-Cheol (Academy of Korean Studies)
Korea's traditional music too often remains unfamiliar to people who have not learned to recognize its fundamental characteristics. Tonight's lecture, by someone who has spent his entire life immersed in Korean music, is designed to introduce us to some of the basic aesthetic features of traditional Korean music in as entertaining a manner as possible.

Upcoming Excursions

Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 9:00am to 1:30pm
In-Wang San Hike & Bugak Skyway Drive
Leader: Ms Sue Bae
A bus will be used for parts of this short excursion but so long as the paths are not too icy there will also be a chance to do some not-too-difficult walking, enjoying the crisp winter air and the lovely views of Seoul and nature combined.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 1:00pm to 6:00pm
Experiencing Korean spirituality through Buddha, Buddhism and Seon(Zen) etc
Leader: Mr. Jun (Y.K.) Shin etc
This new excursion, mainly conducted indoors, will visit the Int’l Seon (Zen) Center, Buddhist Museum and temple at Dongguk University, and relocated historical relics at Jangchungdan Park and Hotel Shilla. Expert guides from the University will help participants deepen their understanding of Buddhism, while a short walk around the neighborhood will provide physical exercise.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 8:30am to 7:30pm
Winter Break Excursion : Gwangneung & Sanjeong Lake
Leader: Ms Sue Bae
This excursion will take us to Gwangneung, the tomb of King Sejo and his queen, located near Seoul in a picturesque National Forest Reserve, and then on to the enchanting Sanjong Lake. After lunch, we have the option of going ice-skating or taking a hike around the lake, which takes about one hour. This has long been a favorite RASKB winter excursion.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 9:00am to 1:00pm
Fortress Wall of Bugaksan Hike
Leader: Ms. Won-Na Cha
Today’s hike is along the wall running behind Gyeongbok palace and the Blue House. The trail will start near Sukjeongmun (the North Gate) and trek to the peak of Bugak mountain; there we will enjoy the panoramic view over the capital, then we will walk down to Changuimun. The paths might be icy, please come with suitable footware.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 - 9:00am to 6:00pm
Sujong-sa, Hongyu-neung and Donggu-neung Tour
Leader: Ms Sue Bae
Today's tour will take us north along the banks of the Han River on a beautiful, scenic road. Our temple trek will take us on a path that passes under chestnut, elm and pine trees, while far below us the merging of the North Han and South Han Rivers forms a natural S curve. We will also be paying a visit to Hongyu-neung, the tomb site of the last two Joseon Dynasty kings. Finally we will visit the Dongu-neung (East Nine tombs). This includes the tomb of King Taejo, the first Joseon ruler.

Finally, our Special Lunar New Year Special:
Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 8:00am to Monday, February 11, 2013 - 8:30pm
Seorak-San National Park & Waterpia
Leader: Ms Sue Bae
In addition to the usual magnificent winter beauty of this scenic area, participants will have the option of enjoying the Cheoksan hot springs on the first night, and to extend the pleasure on the second day at the Seorak Waterpia, a large-scale hot-spring resort. For those who would rather enjoy hiking in the mountains, two options are proposed. This excursion combining relaxation and walking has long been a popular way of excaping fomr the cities during the Lunar New Year holiday. Traffic will not be a problem, we guarantee!

We are preparing additional excursions. Please see our home page for full details of all our activities. Or call our office (02) 763-9483

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RASKB Lecture: Has Korean Competition Reached Its Limit?

Chong-ae Lee (SBS-TV) delivered this lecture about the Korean education system and the Korean economy in March 2012. The video was recorded by RAS-KB member Henry Hwang.

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RAS-KB News and Updates

Dear members and friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch

Our final lecture for this year will be a special lecture-concert with 2 outstanding performers. It will be given this coming Tuesday, December 18, at 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace. The main performer will be Moon Hyun, one of Korea's paramount masters of classical art song. Moon is the current successor to Intangible Cultural Property No.41 (Gasa). There are three principal classical vocal genres in traditional Korean music, gagok, gasa, sijo which are termed jeongga, combined together). They developed in association with Korean classical poetry. These classical songs enjoyed the patronage of the gentry and aristocrats, the yangban, in traditional Korea. Tonight we will hear examples of each of these songs. Moon Hyun has also invited Park Kyung-min to perform for us on the Taegeum, the large traversal bamboo flute. She is currently a Daegum player with the National Orchestra of Korea.

Our excursions continue and on the last weekend of 2012, Prof. Robert Fouser will be leading a visit to Jeong-dong, the area behind Deoksu-gung where many of the early missionaries and diplomats lived. Full details will be in out home page very soon, and you can also find details of our other regular excursions there.

In 2013, the Lunar New Year falls on Sunday, February 10. There will be the traditional RASKB New Year's excursion to Seorak-san, leaving on the Sunday (so avoiding the traffic). Unless there is a last-minute blizzard, Seoraksan at that time is wonderfully beautiful, coated in snow and glistening in Korea's bright winter sunshine. Our Mount Seorak excursion is designed to offer exercise and relaxation. Those who wish can go hiking through the snow-covered landscapes; others can take the relaxed option and spend most of the time soaking in the multiple tubs of a very large, modern family spa. Because many Koreans also enjoy going to Mount Seorak for the New Year's break, places are limited and we ask you to sign up really early for this excursion. The return journey on Monday does not usually take too long, despite it being the last day of the holiday, so don't worry!

Our first lecture in 2013 will be held on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 7:30 pm in Somerset Palace (PLEASE NOTE THIS DATE IS THE 3rd TUESDAY in January). Robert Neff will be celebrating the publication of his latest book about the first foreigners to live in Korea: "Letters From Joseon: 19th Century Korea through the Eyes of an American Ambassador's Wife." This lecture will examine Korea - as seen through the eyes of Sally Sill, the wife of John M. B. Sill - the American Minister to Korea (1894–1897). Their stay in Seoul was during an extremely turbulent period of Korean history, a span of time that encompassed the Sino-Japanese War, the Gabo Reforms, the murder of the Korean queen, and King Gojong's subsequent refuge in the Russian legation. It will be illustrated by many historic photos.

I hope you can join us to enjoy some of these lectures and excursions, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Christmas / End of the Year, and also a very good 2013.

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

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Special Performance Information

Dear members and friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch,

You may recall that early in October a professor of dance named Ms. Park Eun-young presented a special re-enactment of a Joseon-era court performance in Changgyeonggung palace.

She will present the same dances, songs and ceremonies this coming Saturday December 8 at 6:00 pm in the 국립국악원 예악당 Yyeak-dang hall of the National Gugak Center, which is beside Seoul Arts Center (see here for directions)

There will be no charge for this performance. If you would like to attend, please send an email to Suzanna Samstag at jiyunsmom@hotmail.com

Best wishes

Brother Anthony

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RASKB Interview: Early Westerners in Korea & the RAS-KB

Patrick Wunderlich interviews Brother Anthony, president of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch. We discuss early westerners in Korea from the 1880s until the end of the Korean War. We talk about who the early visitors were, why they came to Korea and life after the Japanese annexation of Korea.  The role of the RAS-KB in helping westerns learn about Korea is also discussed.

In part two, we conclude the interview by discussing the last westerners in Korea before the start of World War II and the first westerns who returned to Korea after the war. Thanks for listening.

Pictures From the Mountains of the Baekdu Daegan in North Korea

If you missed the wonderful lecture by Roger Shepherd, you can find his pictures on the Hike Korea flickr account.

During the lecture, Roger talked about his travels in North Korea and shared many stories about his adventures.

You can learn more about Roger Shepherd and Hike Korea by visiting www.hikekorea.com

An Interview with Brother Anthony: What is the RAS-KB?

Patrick Wunderlich talked with Brother Anthony, president of the RAS-KB, about what the RAS-KB is and why it is a great organization to join and support. They discussed tours, lectures, and how it has changed over the years. Please share this interview with anyone who may be interested in joining the RAS-KB.

Links to sites discussed in the interview:

More information about tours and lectures can be found at http://raskb.com/cultural_excursions and http://raskb.com/lectures

The annual journal, Transactions, is available online at http://raskb.inje.ac.kr/main/main2.php

RAS-KB Newsletter November 2012

Dear members and friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch

The weather is getting colder, winter is here! Before the end of the year, the RASKB is hoping you might be interested in one or other of our upcoming activities:

Tonight (Tuesday November 20) at 7:30pm Professor Hi-chun Park of Inha University will be talking about "Energy Policy in Korea with special attention to Nuclear Energy Policy" and it should be a most interesting lecture. Dr. Park has an outstanding record of work in this very important area of modern concern. He presided in 2001, 2003 and 2004 the Korea Resource Economics Association. He has been president of the Korean Petroleum Industry Development Forum and the Study Group on the Natural Gas Industry in Korea. And much more . . .

Next Tuesday (November 27) Roger Shepherd will be telling us about the three months he recently spent trecking across the Mountains of the Baekdu Daegan in North Korea, a follow-up to his exploration of the range in South Korea, about which he has already spoken to us and published a magnificent book.

On Tuesday December 11, to end the year's program, Jocelyn Clark will give us a lecture-concert of traditional Korean music, as she did last year, to great acclaim. She is a recognized exponent of the gayageum, as well as other forms of traditional music.

We are hoping to offer some excursions that are not too challenging in cold weather. This coming Saturday, November 24, Robert Fouser will lead a stroll along the Eastern Sections of the Seoul City Wall.

On Sunday, December 2, Ms. Sue Bae will lead a visit to 2 temples not very far from Seoul, Gakwon sa and Magok-sa, one modern and the other ancient. On Saturday December 8 she will lead a tour which she organizes every year, "Shopping Spree: a hodgepodge of culture, sightseeing and fun." It provides good chances to do some Christmas shopping.

Our Reading Group will meet on December 3, the Photography Group on December 5, and on December 19 we will enjoy another visit to one part of the National Museum of Korea. The National Museum visit tomorrow (November 21) will focus on the current magnificent exhibition of Goryeo Era celadon pottery, the largest ever held. It continues until December 16 and is well worth a visit. It is open until 9pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and (big secret!) almost nobody knows that, so you can enjoy peace and quiet in empty galleries.

I will be sending out more news about our 2013 program soon, and you can always find full information in our home page

I hope that you will find something of interest among these events and look forward to seeing you there.

With my best wishes

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB

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Brother Anthony Translating For Korean Poet Ko Un in England

Read about RASKB president Brother Anthony during his trip to England with Korean poet Ko Un. Brother Anthony has translated many of Ko Un's writings and is now translating for him in England.


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November with the RASKB

November with the RASKB

Dear members and friends of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch,

The year is hurrying toward its close, the next few weekends will be the last chance to get outside of Seoul and enjoy the beauties of Korean nature in autumn. Our excursions might be the ideal way of doing this. Once winter comes, it is still important to keep fit and since Korea is rarely snow-bound, some of our winter hikes offer some healthy exercise with minimal risk. But we will also try to organize some indoor events for greater ease.

Here are our upcoming events, excursions, lectures, study groups . . . . I look forward to seeing many of you at them. Please note that the first lecture is delayed by a week, since the room is not available on the customary 2nd Tuesday.

Visit our home page from time to time, especially the Blog! We are trying to keep it updated and improved.

With my best wishes

Brother Anthony
President, RASKB


Jiri-san and Namwon: A Journey into Korea's Scenic South Jeolla Province
Saturday, November 3 - Sunday, November 4, 2012
Leader: David Mason
The southern regions retain their autumn colors much later and this should be a splendid chance to enjoy natural beauty (with history, too) in balmy weather and with a truly expert leader!

Gilsang-sa Temple and the Korean Furniture Museum
Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 9:45am to 3:00pm
Leader: Mr. Song-Hyon Jang
The recently opened Furniture Museum has a unique collection housed in beautiful Korean buildings.

Old Incheon: A Walk through Korean History since 1876
Saturday, November 10, 2012 13:30-18:00
Leader: Dr. Robert J. Fouser
Delayed by a couple of weeks, this will be a highly instructive visit to an Incheon that most of us have never seen, with relics of the Japanese era, missionary buildings, and the Chinese quarter

KTX 1-day visit to Mokpo’s Japanese-era remains,
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 7:00am to 9:00pm
Leader: Robert Koehler
And going further afield, Mokpo also offers a considerable number of colonial-era buildings in fine condition that we can visit in a single day thanks to the speed of the KTX, with no risk of snarled traffic! And with the best guide one could hope to find!

Eastern Gyeongju Expedition
Saturday, November 17 - 8:00am to Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 8:00pm
Leader: Jennifer Flinn
Gyeongju has many sites that are often missed in standard tours. Jennifer lived here for a time, she will take us to some fascinating, less familiar locations. Usually the autumn colors linger here until late November, some years this weekend is the peak viewing time, it should be a spectacular weekend.

The eastern parts of Seoul City Wall
Saturday November 24
Leader: Robert Fouser
Walking along the wall, and tracing its course where it no longer exists, should give a different, deeper impression of Seoul's history.

Discovering Gakwon-sa temple, Magok-sa
Saturday December 1
Leader: Sue Bae
As winter starts, a short trip to visit a couple of fine temples, one new and one old.


(NB date 1 week later than usual !) Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 7:30 pm
Energy Policy in Korea with special attention to Nuclear Energy Policy
Hi-chun Park
There is a need for a radical reform in the energy market policy in Korea. A per capita energy consumption of over 5 tonnes of oil equivalent is too high. There is a need for radical measures to reduce energy consumption and, in turn, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This presentation will discuss various issues of the Korean energy policy such as energy pricing and nuclear energy development.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 7:30 pm
Mountains of the Baekdu Daegan in North and South Korea
Roger Shepherd
In recent months, Roger has been able to spend 3 months trecking and photographing in the North Korean part of the Baekdu Daegan. In 2013 he will publish a book about it. He will be giving a presentation for RASKB about his experiences there and what this book will mean to Korea.

Study Groups

RAS Reading Club
To learn about Korea and develop cultural literacy through reading works of Korean literature (in English translation). The next meeting will be on Monday November 12, reading “Gray Snowman” by Choe Yun. (See map in “Library” in our home page). All RASKB members are welcome.
Contact: Bob Fouser kagoshimabob@gmail.com

RAS Photo Special Interest Group
We are organizing a monthly photography special interest group, the RAS Photo SIG, to help people improve their photographic skills. Meetings are usually held once a month in the Inje University building. The next meeting will be on Wednesday Nov. 7th. (See map in “Library” in our home page).
Contact: Tom Coyner tom@softlandingkorea.com

National Museum of Korea: RASKB lecture-visit
*** This month's visit will be a very special one. The Museum is currently holding the largest exhibition of Goryeo-era celadons ever held anywhere. Some extremely rare pieces have been brought from overseas to join the national treasures still preserved in Korea. Tonight a member of the staff will provide a guided visit just for RASKB members. Those wishing to attend should send an email with the subject “National Museum Tour” to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com. The visit is limited to 20 people, on a first come first served basis.

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Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5 but we are short staffed and there are meetings elsewhere often: please call or email before your visit.
Phone 010-5355-8387 FAX (02) 766-3796
Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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