Hendrick Hamel

Almost every Korean has heard about Hamel, have you heard about him? He was the first westerner to write about Korea, back in 17th Century.

In 1653, he arrived at Jeju island (link follows to my holiday at jeju) along with his crewmates. He was a bookkeeper for the Dutch East India Company. They were actually on their way to Japan. The men were captured by the Koreans and were forbidden to leave the country. After 13 years they managed to escape to Japan and bring back his writings to the Netherlands.

Every history book in Korea mentions his name. The first public recognition of Hamel in the Netherlands occurred early in the 20th century, when a local street was named after him. They also made a statue for him. As we passed by Gorinchem yesterday, a visit to his statue and a picture were obligatory.

His journal is published as a book under his name.

Korean class

Spent my Saturday learning Korean, I haven’t done anything else since 2011. As you all know my goal is to have conversations with my mother in law.

Recently I have been starting to watch some Korean television as classes have become a routine. Make some homework at home and practice speaking with your fellow students in class does seem to help little by little. When that Korean song ‘Gangnam style’ was popular I noticed a lot of new students trying to pickup the language, although that effect seem to have worn off. Recently the teachers allowed me to pass to advanced class, I’m trying to keep up by studying during my Sundays. Last Saturday we were only with three people.

Promising [startup documentary in Dutch]

edialdekkerI was a bit surprised to see Edial Dekker’s face on the homepage of uitzendinggemist.nl (VOD of Dutch public tv) tonight. I met him a few years ago and remembered his move to Berlin with his brother. They started a company called gidsy.com where one can pitch and sell activities to groups of people. About a year later,they raised 1.5 million dollars and started expanding. A lot happened since then. So frankly, he deserves to be on the homepage of uitzendinggemist.nl. A success story? Follow the episodes from this humble documentary about these enthusiastic founders at uitzendinggemist.nl. Below a trailer of episode 2.

[Mac] Export all your iPhoto events to folders

I’m using a mac for over a decade and thus moved my photos into iPhoto almost automatically. But, I never really that program. It’s slow. Last week I decided that I wanted to get out. That was easier than I thought:

Download phoshare here.

And just run the program. You can select the folder to export to. According to the developer, Phoshare preserves both the original and modified image, and I was able to export using a *year*-*month*-*day*-*title* -format, which I really like! I’ve counted the photo’s inside the library and inside the folder, just for verification. I’m now iPhoto free!

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 23.46.39


Korean style accuracy

signI took the picture above while walking around the Daejeon subway system. To me, this is typical Korean style accuracy. I mean, what would the harm be if they just wrote ’30 meters’?

2 days and one night in Geojedo


It was my first time camping in Korea. I saw some super de luxe tents and learned that Koreans take their camping very seriously. Could camping have been popularized by some camping-themed TV program in Korea? Besides camping I also visited the Oedo island by boat.

Camping in Geojedo

Together with friends of my parents in law, we stayed at the fabulous beach side autocamping in Geojedo, a 400 km drive from Seoul.

it was fun putting up our camp, with tents food and a common area to sit. But it took some time and was a lot of work. When everything was done we proudly sat down and ate our lunch a bit tired but very happy. After lunch I took a walk around the camaping and was surprised how Koreans camp.

So what’s different? Well, I saw a tent with a TV projector – guess no singalongs there. And many hats. For some reason, the hats featured flashlights. Because? I guess they wanted to check up on their barbeques in the dark. Anyway, the guests didn’t go camping because it was cheap. They bought professional gears and we’re fully packed, even if it was for just one night.

Quite different to the ‘as long as there is fire, singalongs and some shuteye’ camping experiences in France and Sweden. Which, also has it’s charm.

There is a populair tv programme in Korea called ‘2 days 1 night’ (1박 2일) and it made camping hugely populair in Korea. In the past year, another television show called ‘dad where are you going’ 아빠! 어디가? (Check out this segment of them camping @ youtube) also features a new lifestyle: children camping with dads and preparing food together. You can see this replicated at the autocamping.


We made a big hike over the pebblestone beach. Later we climbed the hill and got an amazing view over the cliffs. In the evening we prepared a big barbeque with the three families. There was samyuksal, beers and boardgames. And Korean tales ofcourse.


Camping in Oedo

A recommendation. We almost missed it. Actually, we packed up after a nice holiday and started to drive back. Suddenly we noticed a tour operator which featured ferries to the ‘Oedo islands’. My mother in law immediately recalled that they were beautiful and we just had to visit them, so we did. We bought some tickets for about 20 dollars each and waited for our ferry to arrive. Actually, during this waiting time, we enjoyed some beers on the dock while watching the boats, very relaxing!

The ferry first takes you to a ‘cracked island’ which is split in half. It’s quite a sight. Our tour operator boat even went inside the crack, which was a bit scary. He then took off to the Oedo island (외도).

We were told we had about 1,5 hours to explore, which seemed like an awful lot to me. Until I turned a corner and saw the majestic garden. Palm trees, nice seatings, roman pilars and beautiful views on the distant island scenery. I cracked open a drink and enjoyed the view for a while. Then we took a walk through the garden and enjoyed the scene’s and flowers.

Before we knew it, we had to get back to the boat and to the land to go back. Certainly a great night and two days!

Raised in Pyongyang [Video]

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.07.05 AMThe New York Times International published the fascinating story of Ms. Macías, a daughter of the president of Equatorial Guinea who was sent and lived in Pyongyang for 16 years. It was mentioned she wrote a book but right now it’s only available in Korean. Howerver, Arirang TV published an English subtitled interview of this facinating life on Youtube. She reveals how she was raised with American antisemitism and felt bad for the South Korean puppets:

Anniversary in Jeonju

We are in Korea. Spent our wedding anniversary in the old town of Jeonju, South Korea. Just look at the picture above, straight from the movies isn’t it? We stayed the night at that very house, in fact the oldest house of the town called Hakindang.

Hakindang is a graceful upper class home from the Joseon-era converted to a guest house in Jeonju, built in 1905, has an interesting history and is one of the oldest in the village.

Hakindang is where Baek Nak Jung, a well-known devoted son, once lived. King Gojong granted him a government position out of admiration for his filial piety.

Hakindang is a Korean-style house typical of the construction techniques from the
late Joseon period. The building is also a typical example of court construction style introduced into the upper class housing after the Joseon Dynasty collapsed

from wikimapia.

As I was listening to the China History podcast, I started to get curious about Korean history too. Spending the night at Hakindang, we really enjoyed the local customs and historic culture. For breakfast we had the following:

The whole town with it’s hanok roofs (those pointy asian style roofs) was actually very romantic. No wonder the last royal blood from Korea, (would be prince) Lee suk decided to move here. Even the coffeeshops which had a terrace with this nice weather, have hanok roofs:

During the day we visited the kyonggijun garden, which was visited by the first king of the Chosun kingdom. A lot of Korean treasures have been destroyed during the occupation but the kyonggijun had safeguarded a lot, including the transcripts of the king’s activities.

For dinner we had dokkalbi and we drank moju, both of which were a new experience for me. Then we went back to our house, Hakindang. While the day was warm, the nights get cold here in the Korean fall. The paper walls got me worried for a minute but the room was actually quite warm. We slept traditional style on the heated floor.


It’s becoming a tradition to visit a town during anneversary, alrhough this experience was very different from the luxury we enjoyed at that joyful day at sheshan in the P.R.C but certainly a romantic and special experience.

Two podcast recommendations: China History & Dan Carlin

Two US made history podcasts in this recommendation. I wish that I had teachers like Dan Carlin and Laszlo Montgomery in my history classes as a teenager but listening to them while commuting makes up a lot.

China History Podcast

From time to time I stumble upon a podcast that I get really excited about. This is one of them, when Kaiser Kuo mentioned Laszlo in the Sinica podcast. Kaiser explained that Laszlo learned Chinese at a young age and lived and worked in various places around Asia over the years. The China history podcast moves forward over 4000 years of history in the middle kingdom. From the invention of gunpowder to the opium wars and Li ka shing. So start at episode 1! Wish I listened to this before reading the three kingdoms.


Dan Carlin’s Hardcore history & common sense

Dan Carlin is a historian and produces two podcasts, one about history called ‘hardcore history’ and one about current affairs called ‘common sense’. It was recommended by a friend and I didn’t like the podcast at first. The first episode I listened to was about catholicism in Germany and was a much longer listen I was used to. However, The topics are so diverse and Dan’s tinfoil-hat way of looking at our world surely took me to new insights in our present world. Give them a try!


Panelist at Korea Symposium in Amsterdam