Jack London in Korea, 1904: a Bee essay

Link to essay in the Sacramento Bee

I’ve been researching and creating art about Jack London since 1997, when I created about 80 linear feet of murals at Jack London Square in Oakland. I spent many hours at the Sonoma State Park, pouring through albums of reproductions of his photography. I’ve pitched a couple of publishers over the years, about doing a book about his travels. This essay represents part of the sample chapter, as I’ve always been fascinated by this particular trip. Now Korea, both North and South, is in the news, and not in a good way. What did London observe in what is now North Korea? What can he reveal about the nature of the people and rulers?


In January 1904, following London’s famous Klondike stories, William Randolph Hearst sent him to Korea to cover the war between Russia and Japan. Japan and the United Kingdom wanted to prevent Russian expansion; China was neutral. To reach Korea, London traveled by sampan around the south coast. His journals described his death-defying odyssey.