On my final evening at Toji we had a party. Several of the others would also be leaving that weekend so we got together in the common room for a few drinks. A couple of writers read poems written during their time at the foundation and, through a collaborative effort, the group managed to summarise or explain them to me in English.
Posted on 15th July 2014
Posted on 9th July 2014
Weekends at Toji tend to be quiet as many of the writers and artists return home to catch up with family or work. On Sunday there were just five of us here and we drove out to a restaurant in the forest for lunch. The restaurant turned out to be a single table in a house that belongs to a potter and artist and they serve just one party a day. To get to the table we went through rooms stacked high with pottery and craftwork to a small bright room with views of the mountains and forest. Most of the food – kimchi, rice, all kinds of mountain roots and leaves I could never identify – is grown on the land around the house. It was a peaceful afternoon and a welcome break from the novel.
Posted on 2nd July 2014
At the end of my second week at Toji I have got to know the countryside better and have learned more about the work of the Korean writers and artists resident here. Walking is an important part of the writer’s life at Toji and every morning or evening a group sets off up paths into the hills for an hour or so, stopping sometimes along the way to pick wild berries, cherries or apricots.
Posted on 24th June 2014
Thanks to a new residency from Jerwood Fiction Uncovered and the British Council in Korea, I’m spending a month at the Toji Cultural Foundation in the village of Hoechon near Wonju city in South Korea. It’s a tranquil place, tucked away in pine-covered mountains, with little noise to distract me but birdsong – cuckoos in particular – and the frogs in the pond beneath my window. I’ve just reached the end of my first week here and have settled in so comfortably that I already dread leaving.