Korea, Seoul, and the compactness of being

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In brief: As with their written language, Koreans pack a lot into a small space…but also understand the need for opening things up as well. Start with the written language: every word is made up of several syllables, each of …

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Joseon – Korea’s other dynasty

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In brief: For centuries, the Joseon dynasty ruled Korean. Its traces are many – in the palaces of Seoul, the ancestral home at Jeonju, and a quiet village at Yangdong.. On a chilly, drizzly day we took a bus to …

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Stoned in bronze: early Korean gravesites

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In brief: Across several hillsides, we wandered back 3000 years to the dolmens of the bronze age. Traces of early Korean civilization go back tens of thousands of years. In museums, we could see more tools and weapons from the …

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A Window on the Silla

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In brief: The Silla Kingdom of south-central Korea endured for nearly 900 years until 935. Today its legacy comes alive in its former capital, Gyeongju. It’s thrilling to discover a history completely unknown to us. The Silla Kingdom of south-central …

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Uncrossed borders – Korea’s DMZ

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In brief: For South (and likely North) Koreans, memories of war, of division are still strongly emotional and whose hopes for reunion, for peace still endure. We seized the opportunity to visit the DMZ (the demilitarized zone) of Korea, a …

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Cradle and graveyard: across the Orkhon valley

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In brief: Over millennia, the valley has nurtured life, empires, art and religion – and seen its share of death and destruction as well. The Orkhon River Valley is the UNESCO-recognized cradle of Mongolian – and much of Asian – …

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Restless: Mongolians and the Gobi landscape

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In brief: Mongolia’s people, homes and even its landscape are naturally on the move. They say that the morin khuur, a traditional ladle-shaped Mongolian stringed instrument topped by a carved horse’s head, sounds like a wild horse neighing or wind-blown …

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Something old, something new in Ulaan Baatar

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In brief: In Mongolia’s capital city, known as UB, old values like the Buddhist faith have found new strength and the new is slowly transforming daily life. Ulaan Baatar – or UB, as the capital is known – now contains …

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Zanabazar – Mongolia’s monastic hero

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In brief: The 17th c. monk Zanabazar has become a fitting hero for the newly independent Mongolian people, one whose legacy has been spiritual, practical and artistic. Born in 1635 in Tibet, Undur Gegeen Zanabazar was a prodigy in languages …

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Cold comfort at the summer palace

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Sometimes the least traveled places can be the most interesting, even in tough conditions. On a dark, bitterly cold day, we went to Kolomenskoye Park at the outskirts of Moscow because of the ravine. The ravine, we had chanced to …

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