I earned my M.A. in Korean Studies (focusing on the
History of Korean Religions) at the Graduate School of
International Studies of Yonsei University in Seoul.
Before writing Spirit of the Mountains, I published a few
other books and articles about Korean history, culture
and tourism. In 1988 Modern Hotel English came out, in
1993 I wrote essays as the text for a coffee-table book
entitled KOREA: A Sensory Journey, and in 1987 I was
co-author of the Lonely Planet travel-guide about Korea.
For more details and my several published articles, see
my resume. In late 2005 we published Passage to Korea,
the best "coffee-table souvenir" book on SK available.
Me in hat, being a tour-guide at Hwa-eom Monastery
on the southeastern slopes of Jiri-san in May 2001.
I spent 7/82-8/83 in Seoul as a back-pack English
teacher, 1986-87 teaching at the college level in &
near Korea's ancient capital Gyeongju (Kyongju),
and 1988-98 as a professor of English Education at
Gangwon National University, in clean & pretty
Chuncheon City out in the mountains east of Seoul.
1999-2000 found me as professor again, at Yonsei
University's Wonju Campus in rural south-western
Gangwon Province. All this time, I kept on with my
research into Korea's ancient-but-still-strong
mountain-worship traditions, which has taken me
traveling to nearly every corner of this country (and
most of China and Southeast Asia, a bit of South
Asia). I remain fascinated by it all, and just keep on
truckin' with a spirit of adventure and service.
Standing next to my friend Myobong-seunim, speaking
to the crowd in front of the Central Peak Altar, at the
Kye-ryong-san Mountain-spirit Festival, April 2001.
Then I made a big life-change at the start of 2001, moving
back into the Big City and turning my hobby into a new
career. I spent 5 years as a Tourism & P.R. Consultant
for South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism -- first
for the Visit Korea Years 2001-2002 Project, the 2002
Busan Choir Olympics, the 2002 FIFA World Cup and
Pyeongchang City's bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics;
and 2004-2005 for the Ambassador of Tourism and
Sports, also serving as Communications Director for the
UNWTO ST-EP Foundation headquartes office in Seoul
-- I wrote, edited, arranged, spoke and tour-guided for
them, helping out however I could. I have been an English
proofreader for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism,
an Adjunct Professor [Gyeomin-gyosu] of International
Tourism for the Hanyang University Graduate School,
and have many other involvements.
I often serve as an enthusiastic tour-guide for groups of
foreigners to Korea's most beautiful and interesting areas,
and give speeches on Korean history, culture and current
development to various audiences.
In September 2005, I was appointed full-time Professor
of Cultural Tourism Studies by Kyung Hee Daehakgyo
[Gyeonghui University] of Seoul, College of Hotel and
Tourism Management. Photos of my inaugaration
ceremony and views of my office and the lovely
campus. I moved on to other universities 7 years later,
but I still teach interesting courses on cultural tourism
to Korea's cultural-historic and scenic areas. I started
doing this for NamSeoul University in September 2013!
|Selling the book near Shinwon-sa, 4/2001.
|I married Lourdes Enojo Mason in June 2000:
All text and most photos on this site are my
own work unless otherwise indicated, and
are Copyright 2001 through 2014 by David A.
Mason. Please do not copy them for other
use without permission and attribution.
I invite you to contact me about this site,
or with any ideas or concerns, at
With a ceremonial wine-cup, at the Neo-Confucian Ritual for the
Rooster-Dragon-Mountain-Spirit in 2001. Photo by David Kenat.
|Tour-guiding for foreign ambassadors at the
Dan-gun Shrine at Taebaek-san in November 2004.
|Hiking at Cheongnyang-san in 1999
|Explaining the wooden dragon-fish and bell of
Seoul's Doseon-sa to KyungHee University
senior Tourism students in November 2005.
About David A. Mason:
I grew up in Michigan through the 60's & 70's, and furthered my education in and around San Francisco California
1978-81 and 84-85. This is my 29th year of living in South Korea, exploring it and writing about its history and
culture. My main passion remains the beautiful Korean mountains. Active worship of the "spirit"s of the grand
peaks is still going on all over the nation, the continuous discovery of which adds a whole new dimension to
hiking that doesn't much happen in the West. Colorful Zen monasteries mark many trail-heads, old hermitages
filled with unique art and friendly monks are found along the trails, peaks have sacred names and shamans
invoking the spirits are stumbled across on the high cliffs or at spring-water sources... I enjoy living here.
on Jindo Island,
|Thanked by ROK President Kim Dae-jung at the end of 2002, for my role in the
Visit Korea Years projects and helping to start the Temple-Stay programs
|in 1978 -- pencil-drawing by Even Eve, in San Francisco
|As you can see here, Korea is an incredible place
to experience. Many travellers over the years have
packed their luggage and made Korea one of their
top destinations. The landmarks and sites are great
to visit and also provide an excellent opportunity to
learn about the people and their history.