Dosan Seowon, Andong, South Korea.

Half an hour by bus from the small town of Andong sits Dosan Seowon, a Confucian Academy founded in 1549. No longer serving as a place of education, it is open to the public, and still hosts commemorative ceremonies bi-annually.

I was fortunate enough to bump into one of the site’s volunteers while waiting for the bus. A lovely lady, she happily explained much of the academy’s history and cultural significance during the trip, and revealed that she had written the content for the audio guide available on-site. She took tremendous care of me throughout my visit, ensuring that I knew how to use the audio guide, checking with me when I left that everything on it had been clear and informative, and going so far as to be certain that I got on the correct bus back to Andong.

The site itself is peaceful and nestled in a valley which has since been flooded to create a reservoir. This places it at the edge of a lake which wasn’t present during Toegye’s time, and the old examination hall juts from the lake on its own little hill, raised to save it from flooding.

Buildings here are well cared-for, and have signage in Korean and English, along with markers to let you know which part of the audio tour to listen to. The library (above) is raised on stilts to protect its contents (now stored in a museum offsite) from humidity.

Visiting Dosan Seowon:

From the bus-stop outside Andong Train Station (on the train station’s side of the road), take bus 67. There are only a handful of buses each day, so check with the tourist information office (directly outside Andong Train Station): Friendly, multilingual staff will provide you with a bus timetable and a map showing you which bus stop to use.
If you do not speak Korean, simply show the timetable to the bus driver and say “Dosan Seowon”, and sit or stand up front, and it’s highly likely that he will tell you the correct stop when you arrive.

Admission: ₩1,500. Audio guide rental is free, and the office will hold your identification until you return it to them.

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