RAS-KB: The Blog

Tour Recap: Experiencing Korean spirituality through Buddha, Buddhism and Seon

On January 19, 2013, members and friends of the RAS Korea met for a new excursion led by Mr. Jun Shin. During the five hours, participants visited many historical relics near Dongguk University including Supyogyo Stone Bridge, the statue of Samyeong (Buddhist monk during the Imjin War who organized monk soldiers) and Jeonggakwon temple.

Keeping with the theme of “Korean spirituality through Buddha, Buddhism and Seon, we visited the International Seon Center at Donnguk University and listened to a presentation by Glenn Mullin about mediation and Buddhism. The lecture lasted for just under two hours and included many interesting stories about, Buddhist philosophies and the Buddhist mindset for dealing with difficult and troubling times. Many participants enjoyed this time and had the opportunity to ask many questions.

After listening to Lama Glenn Mullin’s presentation, the group visited the Buddhist Museum of Dongguk University. The museum curator graciously showed us around the museum and gave a detailed explanation of the pieces. Usually the museum is closed on Saturday but the curator opened it for the RAS excursion. Everyone who attended the tour was very grateful for this kind gesture.

Overall the tour was interesting and informative while remaining fun and understandable to the general traveler. Thanks to Mr. Jun Shin and the RAS Korea who made the tour happen.
--Patrick Wunderlich

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RAS Lecture Video: South Korea's Overseas Development Assistance Experience

Presenter: Peter Beck, The Asia Foundation

South Korea has gone from being a debtor to a donor country in the span of less than two decades. After having one of the most leveraged economies in the 1990s, Seoul is vastly expanding its overseas development assistance (ODA). Despite a pledge by the government to triple ODA during the first five years of this decade, Seoul is still lagging behind its fellow OECD members. This talk will examine Korea's ODA experience and focus on the blossoming partnership between the Asia Foundation and the several Korean organizations.

Peter Beck is the Korea Representative for the Asia Foundation in Seoul. He is also a columnist for Joongang Ilbo and the only foreigner on the President's Advisory Council. Previously he was the Northeast Asia Director for the International Crisis Group and the Director of Research at the Korea Economic Institute of America. He has also held fellowships at the Council on Foreign Relations, the East-West Center and Stanford University. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and completed the Korean language program at Seoul National University. He conducted his graduate studies at U.C. San Diego.

This video was recorded by RAS Korea member Henry Hwang.

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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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Contact Us

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

Office is open Tuesday through Friday. We are short staffed: please call or email before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796
Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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