Monthly Archives: February 2015

Of Whale Bones, Teh Tarik and Lion Dances… or the Remarkable Similarities between Asia’s Port Cities

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Last week, I popped into the Museum to admire the whale bone in its natural history galleries, dropped by a streetside stall to have a cup of teh tarik (pulled tea) and – it being the Chinese Lunar New Year – also visited the … Continue reading

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The Westin Chosun Hotel, Seoul

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The Westin Chosun Hotel is the grande dame of Seoul’s hospitality scene.  It originated as an act of cultural desecration. In 1913, the Japanese destroyed the Hwangudan Altar – Seoul’s equivalent of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, where the … Continue reading

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Keijo 京城, or Japanese Seoul

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In 1910, Imperial Japan annexed Korea forcefully, culminating a process that began with the Meiji Emperor in 1876.  The Joseon capital of Hanseong was renamed 京城 – read as “Kei-jo” in Japanese, and “Gyeongseong” in Korean – and designated the … Continue reading

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Jeong-Dong, Seoul’s Former Foreign Legation Quarter

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In October 1897, King Gojong – the last King of the Joseon Dynasty – declared independence from Qing China and proclaimed the formation of the Daehan Jeguk, or the Korean Empire from the confines of the Deoksugung Palace. Just a … Continue reading

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The Imperial Palaces and Shrines of the Joseon Emperors, Seoul

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We start our tour of Seoul from when it was called Hanseong 漢城, and ruled by the Joseon Dynasty (also transliterated as “Chosun”). The architectural heritage of the period remains in the form of five imperial palaces within the city … Continue reading

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The Grand Tour II-11: Capital City… Hanseong / Keijo / Seoul (漢城 / 京城 / 서울)

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And so at last we have left China, and made landing on Korean soil. For 500 years, the Korean Peninsula was a tributary state of Imperial China, first under the Ming Dynasty and then the Qing Dynasty.  Korea itself wasn’t … Continue reading

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