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Korea: A Wonderland of Mountain Climbers
Price per Unit (piece): KRW 30,000
USD 21.95
Author: Yeon Woo Lee
Publisher: 효일문화사
Pub. Date: Mar 2024
Pages: 420
Dimensions (in inches): 7.52 x 10.23 x 1.22
ISBN: 9791186432433
Language: English
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When I started mountain climing, I was a completely blank sheet of paper. I knew nothing about mountains, holding only some vague notion of them as a sort of green drapery of trees, soil, and stones to encircle the things around them. After making a visit to 100 mountains of renown, this idea underwent a gradual change - enough for me to say that mountains are warehouses harboring boundless treasures, namely, great artworks of nature unsurpassed by any human-made objects of art.
While browsing the internet one summer day, I happened to come across a photograph. After carrying a feeling of discontentment for over 10 years for not being able to fully immerse myself in photographing, the discovery of that photo had me spontaneously exclaim, “This is it!” From that point on, my interest in pictures shifted to mountains, viz nature.
I recall younger phases of growing intoxicated by the sounds of classical music, unaware of the reasoning behind its fame and fascination. Wishing to seek relief from the sense of oppression stemming from my ignorance, I tried to listen to music as often as possible (in my 20s). Actually, I should clarify that I read it, as it were, more than I actually listened to it. Gradually, over time, I did do more listening, little by little. As more time passed, I felt that I could - at least vaguely - hear the flow of the music. It took me longer than 10 years to reach this point, and in no time, my interest switched to movies. I pored over them (in my 30s) until my eyes popped out, incessantly posing the question of “How am I meant to lead my life?” Without finding a clear answer, however, I found myself drawn back into the world of pictures (in my 40s), indulging myself in exhibition after exhibition. Another 10 years went by, and I noticed a terrible thirst springing forth to signal that something inside of me was still not quite satisfied. It was at the height of my quest for a remedy to this thirst that I really took notice of the presence of mountains all around us. I then embarked on a long journey meant to quench this awful thirst.
On my initial hikes, I could see nothing but the backs of my fellow alpinists, always overcome by fatigue and too busy catching my breath to actually catch up. I must confess that, every time I went along with them, I felt tears well up and almost succumbed to the lures of quitting. What enabled me to endure it all was this thought: “Quit now, and you won’t be able to survive. Climb up to the summit, and you will be sufficiently compensated with a splendid sight.”
That’s how I managed through the first part of my journey. Only then could I notice the scenic views unveiling themselves to offer a shot of strength to my exhausted legs. My curiosity about mountains also began to grow, and with the passage of over a year of climbing, I came to realize (through the internet) that Korea is home to some 130 mountains of fame (cf. Black Yak of the Forestry Authority).
I began consciously climbing these mountains, one by one, following the Black Yak list and, frustratingly enough, was able to utilize the Trangle map of mountain climbing only after scaling some 110 slopes. Had I known how to use this map earlier, I’d have wandered around far less and with far less anxiety. Now, thanks to Trangle, I know about the essentials of mountain climbing.
In making a record of these climbs, from the very beginning, I would initially scribble down notes in order to keep all the memorable moments in my heart without losing a single piece. Because, at the start, I could only glimpse the backs of my fellow hikers, I really had no sense of where I was. That is why I could not mark off the courses leading to Bukhansan Mountain and Sobaeksan Mountain, and so I ended up just adumbrating my thoughts. Then, slowly, over time, I began to see the landscapes, pathways, and courses themselves, allowing me to write about the entire experience in greater detail.
In closing, I should like to say thanks to my publisher and the editors who made this publication possible. Moreover, I want to convey my appreciation to those who did such a beautiful cartographic job for my book. My sincere appreciation also goes out to all of the Society of Mountain Climbing Guides, the drivers who took us safely to our destinations, and the good folks who helped me write the manuscript for this book.
To me, everyone sharing their time to navigate through the days made all the more difficult by the pandemic is a hero. I have endless gratitude for my fellow alpinists and send out all the very best to you all!

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