South Korea

VANK points out that overseas travel guides distort Korean culture and history

VANK points out that overseas travel guides distort Korean culture and history

VANK points out that overseas travel guides distort Korean culture and history

“Korea” by Lonely Planet, “South Korea” by Insight Guides and “South Korea: Travel for Kids” by Dinobibi Publishing / Courtesy of VANK

Park Han Song

The Network of Volunteer Agencies in Korea (VANK), a non-governmental organization that promotes understanding of Korean culture and history online, pointed out on Thursday that there were multiple errors and distortions in several popular Korean guidebooks published overseas.

The group pointed to several factual errors in the latest editions of Lonely Planet’s “Korea,” Insight Guides’ “Korea,” and Dinobibi Publishing’s “Korea: Travel for Kids,” which sold globally in 2019.

Some notable errors in the guides include such things as “Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art with a history of more than 2,000 years and was passed down from the Tang Dynasty” (Insight Guides) and “Bibimbap is a rice and vegetable stew” etc. “(Dinobibi Publishing).

VANK clarified that Taekwondo did not originate in China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907), which is less than 2,000 years old. It also says that bibimbap is not a stew, but rice mixed with meat or vegetables and seasonings.

Other basic factual errors are in statements such as “Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is located in Gyeonggi-do,” when in fact, Seoul Metropolitan City is a municipality independent of surrounding provinces.

“Korea: A Children’s Journey” misrepresented that Seoul hosted the 2002 Olympics, when in fact South Korea and Japan co-hosted the World Cup. South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988.

VANK said it detected 20 errors in Lonely Planet’s guides, 32 errors in Insight Guides and 24 errors in Dinobibi Publishing.

Because of the publisher’s public credibility, the group expressed concern that overseas tourists interested in South Korea might have a distorted view of the country by consulting such materials.

The organization then demanded that the three publishers formally apologize and make appropriate revisions to the books based on full consultation with experts.

“If it is a guideline about Korea, the publisher should at least accept a review by Korea or Korean experts on the veracity of the content described in the guideline, and should carefully check the content and provide accurate information,” the group’s online petition on Said in the book.

VANK earlier discovered more than 30 errors in another well-known guidebook, “The Rough Guide to Korea,” and launched a petition on

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