m a r k a n d e y a

Want to Learn about Korea?

Posted by Brian on July 13, 2003

If you're interested in learning some more about Korea, I recommend the following books:

Korea Unmasked: In Search of the Country, the Society, and the People by Rhie Won-bok

Done in comic book-style by one of Korea's most famous cartoonists, this is a very accessible book that does one heck of a job of explaining how Korean people think and why they think that way. I've even spoke with Korean friends who found it illuminating.  It's a great book that should be read by anyone with an interest in Korea.

The Koreans by Michael Breen

A bit more academic in style, but still quite readable by most. The author has spent a lot of time in Korea and really knows what makes Koreans tick. 

Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-hwang 

I read this on my return flight to Seattle from Seoul back in April. According to the publisher, Kang is, "the first survivor of a North Korean concentration camp to escape the 'hermit kingdom' and tell his story to the world." As bleak and horrifying as it sounds, this book reveals just how depraved the Kim Jong-il regime really is (no doubt the South Korean government doesn't want you reading this book).

The Two Koreas by Dan Oberdofer

Oberdofer does a great job of covering Korea's last 30 years or so. I learned a lot about Park Chung-hee era and the history of NK-SK relations from this book.

Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Ju-yung by Donald Kirk

This book was not authorized by Chung and his family, meaning it gives you the dirt that Hyundai, and I imagine most big business in Korea, doesn't want to you to see. It's also helpful for gaining a better understanding of the relationship between Korean chaebol (conglomerates) and labor and government.


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