Feature photo above by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash
City Girl Reads #2 – Seoul’s Historic Walks in Sketches
by Janghee Lee (translated by David Carruth)
Genres: Travel literature, History
There’s no better time than now (with all the time spent at home) to catch up with our books right? :)
I chanced upon this book during one of my many just popping by the bookstore to window shop trips and when the library got a copy, I ran to the library branch near my office during lunch to grab it! I knew from the first chapter that I was going to love this book and I was right! I’ve added it to my list of favourite books. :)
Note: This book was originally published in Korean, I read the translated English edition.
As you can tell from the title and the book cover, this book is filled with sketches of Seoul – all personal sketches done by the author himself. Every single page of the book has a sketch or more, ranging from large views of Seoul to the little design details in the arches of a historical palace building. To accompany his sketches, Lee’s book tells the stories of Seoul’s historical grand past, sharing stories that have been told, untold and some which may have been forgotten.
Lee has clearly dedicated a lot of time and passion in his sketches, his research and his exploration to discover these past stories and places of Seoul, which are not always talked about in contrast to the beautiful and trendy city it is today. I learned so much about South Korea’s past, about all that it’s been through, about how much things have been destroyed and rebuilt, about the people and their lives and their stories.
This is a long read, but not a dry history book at all. I admire Lee’s passion for his home and he’s a wonderful storyteller as well. If you’re interested in reading about the stories that existed before today’s Seoul came to be, I can’t recommend this book enough!
FYI: For Singapore friends, I borrowed this book from NLB, spotted it at Kinokuniya bookstore (Ngee Ann City) and know that it’s also available online at Book Depository.
King Taejo must have walked here, filled with anticipation about the city he had chosen to be the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. As he stood on the peak, he must have dreamed of the future. But I doubt in his wildest dreams he ever guessed that the dense woods covering the land below would be transformed into such a stunning forest of buildings.Seoul’s Historic Walks in Sketches by Janghee Lee (trans. David Carruth)
Standing in this spot, I couldn’t help but imagine the future of Seoul myself. But the Seoul I imagine is not a flashy city bristling with skyscrapers. What I dream of is a peaceful and profound historically rich city that has been restored, at least within the city walls, to the way it was before.