On March 17, 2009, Lee and her Current TV colleague Laura Ling were working on a documentary about the desperate lives of North Koreans fleeing their homeland for a chance at freedom when they were violently apprehended by North Korean soldiers. For nearly five months they remained detained while friends and family in the United States were given little information about their status or conditions. For Lee, detention would prove especially harrowing. Imprisoned just 112 miles from where she was born and where her parents still live in Seoul, South Korea, she was branded as a betrayer of her Korean blood by her North Korean captors. After representing herself in her trial before North Korea’s highest court, she received a sentence of twelve years of hard labor in the country’s notorious prison camps, leading her to fear she might not ever see her husband and daughter again.
The World Is Bigger Now draws us deep into Euna Lee’s life before and after this experience: what led to her arrival in North Korea, her efforts to survive the agonizing months of detainment, and how she and her fellow captive, Ling, were finally released thanks to the efforts of many individuals, including Bill Clinton. Lee explains in unforgettable detail what it was like to lose, and then miraculously regain, life as she knew it.
The World Is Bigger Now is the story of faith and love and Euna Lee’s personal
conviction that God will sustain and protect us, even in our darkest hours.
From the Hardcover edition.
As North Korea’s State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine. An astonishing exposé told through the heart-stopping story of Jang Jin-sung’s escape to South Korea, Dear Leader is an “impossibly dramatic story…one of the best depictions yet of North Korea’s nightmare” (Publishers Weekly).
Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors.
North Korea is one of the most troubled societies on earth. The country's 24 million people live under a violent dictatorship led by a single family, which relentlessly pursues the development of nuclear arms, which periodically incites risky military clashes with the larger, richer, liberal South, and which forces each and every person to play a role in the "theater state" even as it pays little more than lip service to the wellbeing of the overwhelming majority.
With this deeply anachronistic system eventually failed in the 1990s, it triggered a famine that decimated the countryside and obliterated the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people. However, it also changed life forever for those who survived.
A lawless form of marketization came to replace the iron rice bowl of work in state companies, and the Orwellian mind control of the Korean Workers' Party was replaced for many by dreams of trade and profit. A new North Korea Society was born from the horrors of the era—one that is more susceptible to outside information than ever before with the advent of k-pop and video-carrying USB sticks. This is the North Korean society that is described in this book.
In seven fascinating chapters, the authors explore what life is actually like in modern North Korea today for the ordinary "man and woman on the street." They interview experts and tap a broad variety of sources to bring a startling new insider's view of North Korean society—from members of Pyongyang's ruling families to defectors from different periods and regions, to diplomats and NGOs with years of experience in the country, to cross-border traders from neighboring China, and textual accounts appearing in English, Korean and Chinese sources. The resulting stories reveal the horror as well as the innovation and humor which abound in this fascinating country.
Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.
Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.
I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn’t even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably die—from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice. But there was more to our journey than our own survival. My mother and I were searching for my older sister, Eunmi, who had left for China a few days earlier and had not been heard from since.
Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come. Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life. By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, “I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.”
In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom.
Still in her early twenties, Yeonmi Park has lived through experiences that few people of any age will ever know—and most people would never recover from. Park confronts her past with a startling resilience, refusing to be defeated or defined by the circumstances of her former life in North Korea and China. In spite of everything, she has never stopped being proud of where she is from, and never stopped striving for a better life. Indeed, today she is a human rights activist working determinedly to bring attention to the oppression taking place in her home country.
Park’s testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable.
The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.
In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.
The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.
Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.
Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has gone undercover as a missionary and a teacher. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them English, all under the watchful eye of the regime.
Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues—evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn't share their faith. As the weeks pass, she is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime. At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves—their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished. She in turn begins to hint at the existence of a world beyond their own—at such exotic activities as surfing the Internet or traveling freely and, more dangerously, at electoral democracy and other ideas forbidden in a country where defectors risk torture and execution. But when Kim Jong-il dies, and the boys she has come to love appear devastated, she wonders whether the gulf between her world and theirs can ever be bridged.
Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world's most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls "soldiers and slaves."
In 1946, master sergeant Donald Nichols was repairing jeeps on the sleepy island of Guam when he caught the eye of recruiters from the army's Counter Intelligence Corps. After just three months' training, he was sent to Korea, then a backwater beneath the radar of MacArthur's Pacific Command. Though he lacked the pedigree of most U.S. spies—Nichols was a 7th grade dropout—he quickly metamorphosed from army mechanic to black ops phenomenon. He insinuated himself into the affections of America’s chosen puppet in South Korea, President Syngman Rhee, and became a pivotal player in the Korean War, warning months in advance about the North Korean invasion, breaking enemy codes, and identifying most of the targets destroyed by American bombs in North Korea.
But Nichols's triumphs had a dark side. Immersed in a world of torture and beheadings, he became a spymaster with his own secret base, his own covert army, and his own rules. He recruited agents from refugee camps and prisons, sending many to their deaths on reckless missions. His closeness to Rhee meant that he witnessed—and did nothing to stop or even report—the slaughter of tens of thousands of South Korean civilians in anticommunist purges. Nichols’s clandestine reign lasted for an astounding eleven years.
In this riveting book, Blaine Harden traces Nichols's unlikely rise and tragic ruin, from his birth in an operatically dysfunctional family in New Jersey to his sordid postwar decline, which began when the U.S. military sacked him in Korea, sent him to an air force psych ward in Florida, and subjected him—against his will—to months of electroshock therapy. But King of Spies is not just the story of one American spy. It is a groundbreaking work of narrative history that—at a time when North Korea is threatening the United States with long-range nuclear missiles—explains the origins of an intractable foreign policy mess.
In The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, New York Times bestselling author Blaine Harden tells the riveting story of how Kim Il Sung grabbed power and plunged his country into war against the United States while the youngest fighter pilot in his air force was playing a high-risk game of deception—and escape.
As Kim ascended from Soviet puppet to godlike ruler, No Kum Sok noisily pretended to love his Great Leader. That is, until he swiped a Soviet MiG-15 and delivered it to the Americans, not knowing they were offering a $100,000 bounty for the warplane (the equivalent of nearly one million dollars today). The theft—just weeks after the Korean War ended in July 1953—electrified the world and incited Kim’s bloody vengeance.
During the Korean War the United States brutally carpet bombed the North, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and giving the Kim dynasty, as Harden reveals, the fact-based narrative it would use to this day to sell paranoia and hatred of Americans.
Drawing on documents from Chinese and Russian archives about the role of Mao and Stalin in Kim’s shadowy rise, as well as from never-before-released U.S. intelligence and interrogation files, Harden gives us a heart-pounding escape adventure and an entirely new way to understand the world’s longest-lasting totalitarian state.
From the Hardcover edition.
Inside the hidden and mysterious world of North Korea, Joseph Kim lived a young boy’s normal life until he was five. Then disaster struck: the first wave of the Great Famine, a long, terrible ordeal that killed millions, including his father, and sent others, like his mother and only sister, on desperate escape routes into China. Alone on the streets, Joseph learned to beg and steal. He had nothing but a street-hardened survival instinct. Finally, in desperation, he too crossed a frozen river to escape to China.
There a kindly Christian woman took him in, kept him hidden from the authorities, and gave him hope. Soon, through an underground network of activists, he was spirited to the American consulate, and became one of just a handful of North Koreans to be brought to the U.S. as refugees. Joseph knew no English and had never been a good student. Yet the kindness of his foster family changed his life. He turned a new leaf, became a dedicated student, mastered English, and made it to college, where he is now thriving thanks to his faith and inner strength. Under the Same Sky is an unforgettable story of suffering and redemption.
By now, everyone in the world knows the song "Gangnam Style" and Psy, an instantly recognizable star. But the song's international popularity is no passing fad. "Gangnam Style" is only one tool in South Korea's extraordinarily elaborate and effective strategy to become a major world superpower by first becoming the world's number one pop culture exporter.
As a child, Euny Hong moved from America to the Gangnam neighbourhood in Seoul. She was a witness to the most accelerated part of South Korea's economic development, during which time it leapfrogged from third-world military dictatorship to first-world liberal democracy on the cutting edge of global technology.
Euny Hong recounts how South Korea vaulted itself into the twenty-first century, becoming a global leader in business, technology, education, and pop culture. Featuring lively, in-depth reporting and numerous interviews with Koreans working in all areas of government and society, The Birth of Korean Cool reveals how a really uncool country became cool, and how a nation that once banned miniskirts, long hair on men, and rock ‘n' roll could come to mass produce boy bands, soap operas, and the world's most important smart phone.
Amid escalating nuclear tensions, Kim Jong-un and North Korea's other leaders have kept a tight grasp on their one-party state, quashing any nascent opposition movements and sending all suspected dissidents to its brutal concentration camps for "re-education."
Kang Chol-Hwan is the first survivor of one of these camps to escape and tell his story to the world, documenting the extreme conditions in these gulags and providing a personal insight into life in North Korea. Sent to the notorious labor camp Yodok when he was nine years old, Kang for ten years observed frequent public executions and endured forced labor and near-starvation rations. In 1992, he escaped to South Korea, where he found God and now advocates for human rights in North Korea.
This record of one man's suffering gives eyewitness proof to the abuses perpetrated by the North Korean regime.
In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it’s never been seen before. Even though it’s the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border.
But Wendy’s initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia. Before long, she learned the essential conundrum of “tourism” in North Korea: Travel is truly a love affair. But, just like love, it’s a two-way street. And North Korea deprives you of all this. They want you to fall in love with the singular vision of the country they’re willing to show you and nothing more.
Through poignant, laugh-out-loud essays and 92 never-before-published color photographs of North Korea, Wendy chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way, she bares all while undergoing an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.
In 2002, the Swiss power company ABB appointed Felix Abt its country director for North Korea. The Swiss Entrepreneur lived and worked in North Korea for seven years, one of the few foreign businessmen there. After the experience, Abt felt compelled to write A Capitalist in North Korea to describe the multifaceted society he encountered.
North Korea, at the time, was heavily sanctioned by the UN which made it extremely difficult to do business. Yet he discovered that it was a place where plastic surgery and South Korean TV dramas were wildly popular and where he rarely needed to walk more than a block to grab a quick hamburger. He was closely monitored and once faced accusations of spying, yet he learned that young North Koreans are hopeful—signing up for business courses in anticipation of a brighter, more open, future. In A Capitalist in North Korea, Abt shares these and many other unusual facts and insights about one of the world's most secretive nations.
David Halberstam's magisterial and thrilling The Best and the Brightest was the defining book about the Vietnam conflict. More than three decades later, Halberstam used his unrivaled research and formidable journalistic skills to shed light on another pivotal moment in our history: the Korean War. Halberstam considered The Coldest Winter his most accomplished work, the culmination of forty-five years of writing about America's postwar foreign policy.
Halberstam gives us a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu River and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures--Eisenhower, Truman, Acheson, Kim, and Mao, and Generals MacArthur, Almond, and Ridgway. At the same time, Halberstam provides us with his trademark highly evocative narrative journalism, chronicling the crucial battles with reportage of the highest order. As ever, Halberstam was concerned with the extraordinary courage and resolve of people asked to bear an extraordinary burden.
The Coldest Winter is contemporary history in its most literary and luminescent form, providing crucial perspective on every war America has been involved in since. It is a book that Halberstam first decided to write more than thirty years ago and that took him nearly ten years to complete. It stands as a lasting testament to one of the greatest journalists and historians of our time, and to the fighting men whose heroism it chronicles.
But, as Bruce Cumings demonstrates in this provocative, lively read, the story of the U.S.-Korea conflict is more complex than our leaders or our news media would have us believe. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Korea, and on declassified government reports, Cumings traces that story, from the brutal Korean War to the present crisis. Harboring no illusions regarding the totalitarian Kim Jong Il regime, Cumings nonetheless insists on a more nuanced approach. The result is both a counter-narrative to the official U.S. and North Korean versions and a fascinating portrayal of North Korea, a country that suffers through foreign invasions, natural disasters, and its own internal contradictions, yet somehow continues to survive.
Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.
With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester.
Now Max Hastings, preeminent military historian takes us back to the bloody bitter struggle to restore South Korean independence after the Communist invasion of June 1950. Using personal accounts from interviews with more than 200 vets—including the Chinese—Hastings follows real officers and soldiers through the battles. He brilliantly captures the Cold War crisis at home—the strategies and politics of Truman, Acheson, Marshall, MacArthur, Ridgway, and Bradley—and shows what we should have learned in the war that was the prelude to Vietnam.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. She takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.
Praise for Nothing to Envy
“Provocative . . . offers extensive evidence of the author’s deep knowledge of this country while keeping its sights firmly on individual stories and human details.”—The New York Times
“Deeply moving . . . The personal stories are related with novelistic detail.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A tour de force of meticulous reporting.”—The New York Review of Books
“Excellent . . . humanizes a downtrodden, long-suffering people whose individual lives, hopes and dreams are so little known abroad.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“The narrow boundaries of our knowledge have expanded radically with the publication of Nothing to Envy. . . . Elegantly structured and written, [it] is a groundbreaking work of literary nonfiction.”—John Delury, Slate
“At times a page-turner, at others an intimate study in totalitarian psychology.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Lonely Planet Korea is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Walk along Cheong-gye-cheon's long-buried stream, hike around Jeju-do's volcanic landscape, or jump into a vat of mud during the Boryeong Mud Festival; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Korea and begin your journey now!
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In a recent story, Newsweek reported: “Amid increasingly deteriorating relations between the U.S. and North Korea, as President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un exchange barbs and the threat of a nuclear conflict looms, Mattis responded to a question on how best to avoid such a war.
“An audience member asked: ‘What can the U.S. military do to lessen the likelihood of conflict on the Korean Peninsula?’
“Mattis responded with a direction to read This Kind of War, stating: ‘There’s a reason I recommend T.R. Fehrenbach’s book, that we all pull it out and read it one more time.’”
This Kind of War is “perhaps the best book ever written on the Korean War” (John McCain, The Wall Street Journal), the most comprehensive single-volume history of the conflict that began in 1950 and is still affecting US foreign policy. Fifty years later, not only does this enlightening account give details of the tactics, infantrymen, and equipment, it also chronicles the story of military and political unpreparedness that led to a profligate loss of American lives in Korea.
T. R. Fehrenbach, an officer in the conflict, provides us with accounts of the combat situation that could only have been written by an eyewitness in the thick of the action. But what truly sets this book apart from other military memoirs is the piercing analysis of the global political maneuverings behind the brutal ground warfare that marked this bloody period of history, one that has been all but forgotten by many, but has become crucially important again.
“A 54-year-old history of the Korean War that’s much better known in military than civilian quarters . . . Interspersed with this high-level narrative are gritty, close-grained accounts of the grim ordeals, heroic sacrifices, and sometimes, tragic blunders of individual soldiers, from privates to generals.” —Politico
For Americans, it was a discrete conflict lasting from 1950 to 1953. But for the Asian world the Korean War was a generations-long struggle that still haunts contemporary events. With access to new evidence and secret materials from both here and abroad, including an archive of captured North Korean documents, Bruce Cumings reveals the war as it was actually fought. He describes its origin as a civil war, preordained long before the first shots were fired in June 1950 by lingering fury over Japan’s occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Cumings then shares the neglected history of America’s post–World War II occupation of Korea, reveals untold stories of bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and tells of the United States officially entering the action on the side of the South, exposing as never before the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides.
Elegantly written and blisteringly honest, The Korean War is, like the war it illuminates, brief, devastating, and essential.
Praise for The Korean War
“A powerful revisionist history . . . a sobering corrective.”—The New York Times
“Worth reading . . . This work raises the question of what Korea can tell us about the outlook for Iraq and Afghanistan.”—Financial Times
“Well-sourced [and] elegantly presented.”—The Wall Street Journal
By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun's father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun was in danger of the same. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.
Now, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting exposé of North Korea's totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
Sixty years after North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea, the Korean War has not yet ended. Sheila Miyoshi Jager presents the first comprehensive history of this misunderstood war, one that risks involving the world’s superpowers—again. Her sweeping narrative ranges from the middle of the Second World War—when Korean independence was fiercely debated between Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill—to the present day, as North Korea, with China’s aid, stockpiles nuclear weapons while starving its people. At the center of this conflict is an ongoing struggle between North and South Korea for the mantle of Korean legitimacy, a "brother’s war," which continues to fuel tensions on the Korean peninsula and the region.
Drawing from newly available diplomatic archives in China, South Korea, and the former Soviet Union, Jager analyzes top-level military strategy. She brings to life the bitter struggles of the postwar period and shows how the conflict between the two Koreas has continued to evolve to the present, with important and tragic consequences for the region and the world. Her portraits of the many fascinating characters that populate this history—Truman, MacArthur, Kim Il Sung, Mao, Stalin, and Park Chung Hee—reveal the complexities of the Korean War and the repercussions this conflict has had on lives of many individuals, statesmen, soldiers, and ordinary people, including the millions of hungry North Koreans for whom daily existence continues to be a nightmarish struggle.
The most accessible, up-to date, and balanced account yet written, illustrated with dozens of astonishing photographs and maps, Brothers at War will become the definitive chronicle of the struggle’s origins and aftermath and its global impact for years to come.
The definitive account of North Korea, its veiled past and uncertain future, from the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council
In The Impossible State, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain on this controversial and isolated country, providing the best look yet at North Korea's history, the rise of the Kim family dynasty, and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. He illuminates the repressive regime's complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human-rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime's major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions—all in light of the destabilizing effects of Kim Jong-il's recent death.
How this enigmatic nation-state—one that regularly violates its own citizens' inalienable rights and has suffered famine, global economic sanctions, a collapsed economy, and near total isolation from the rest of the world—has continued to survive has long been a question that preoccupies the West. Cha reveals a land of contradictions, one facing a pivotal and disquieting transition of power from tyrannical father to inexperienced son, and delves into the ideology that leads an oppressed, starving populace to cling so fiercely to its failed leadership.
With rare personal anecdotes from the author's time in Pyongyang and his tenure as an adviser in the White House, this engagingly written, authoritative, and highly accessible history offers much-needed answers to the most pressing questions about North Korea and ultimately warns of a regime that might be closer to its end than many might think—a political collapse for which America and its allies may be woefully unprepared.
To North Koreans, the Kims are more than just leaders. Kim Il-Sung is the country's leading novelist, philosopher, historian, educator, designer, literary critic, architect, general, farmer, and ping-pong trainer. Radios are made so they can only be tuned to the official state frequency. "Newspapers" are filled with endless columns of Kim speeches and propaganda. And instead of Christmas, North Koreans celebrate Kim's birthday--and he presents each child a present, just like Santa.
The regime that the Kim Dynasty has built remains technically at war with the United States nearly a half century after the armistice that halted actual fighting in the Korean War. This fascinating and complete history takes full advantage of a great deal of source material that has only recently become available (some from archives in Moscow and Beijing), and brings the reader up to the tensions of the current day. For as this book will explain, North Korea appears more and more to be the greatest threat among the Axis of Evil countries--with some defector testimony warning that Kim Jong-Il has enough chemical weapons to wipe out the entire population of South Korea.
The key to understanding how the North Korean people live, the authors argue, is to realize that their only allowed role is to support Kim Jong-un, whose grandfather founded the country in the late 1940s. Still a cypher, Kim Jong-un, as did his father before him, controls his people by keeping them isolated and banning most foreigners. North Koreans remain hungry and oppressed, yet the outside world is slowly filtering in, and the book concludes by urging the United States to flood North Korea with information so that its people can make decisions based on truth rather than their dictator's ubiquitous propaganda.
Author Dan Tudor first arrived in Korea on the eve of the 2002 World Cup when South Korea played Italy in the finals. What he saw inspired him to return and work in Korea. He served as The Economist magazine's Korea correspondent for three years, and he writes regular columns for the national daily Joongang Ilbo newspaper. Along the way, he has developed a great love and admiration for Korean culture and the Korean people.
A Geek in Korea reinvents the culture guide for the Internet age. Packed with articles and photographs, it covers all the touchstones of Korean culture—from Buddhism and Confucianism to chapters on the traditional arts and disciplines like Taekwondo. There are chapters on cultural code words and norms; personal relationships; business and technology; and symbols and practices that are peculiarly Korean. A number of chapters are devoted to Korean pop culture, with attention to the stars, idols, and urban subcultures associated with them. For visitors to Korea, the author includes a mini-guide to his favorite neighborhoods in Seoul and other places of outstanding interest.
Spotlighting the originality and creativity of the Koreans, debunking myths about them, and answering nagging questions like why they're so obsessed with education and success—Tudor has created the perfect book for the growing ranks of Koreaphiles in this inspired, insightful, and highly informative guide.
“Much about the Korean War is still hidden, and much will long remain hidden. I believe I have succeeded in throwing new light on its origins.” —From the author’s preface
In 1945 US troops arrived in Korea for what would become America’s longest-lasting conflict. While history books claim without equivocation that the war lasted from 1950 to 1953, those who have actually served there know better. By closely analyzing US intelligence before June 25, 1950 (the war’s official start), and the actions of key players like John Foster Dulles, General Douglas MacArthur, and Chiang Kai-shek, the great investigative reporter I. F. Stone demolishes the official story of America’s “forgotten war” by shedding new light on the tangled sequence of events that led to it.
The Hidden History of the Korean War was first published in 1952—during the Korean War—and then republished during the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, documents from the former Soviet archives became available, further illuminating this controversial period in history.
In just fifty years, South Korea has transformed itself from a failed state, ruined and partitioned by war and decades of colonial rule, into an economic powerhouse and a democracy that serves as a model for other countries.
How was it able to achieve this with no natural resources and a tradition of authoritarian rule? Who are the Koreans and how did they accomplish this second Asian miracle? Through a comprehensive exploration of Korean history, culture and society, and interviews with dozens of experts, celebrated journalist Daniel Tudor seeks answers to these and many other fascinating questions. In Korea: The Impossible Country, Tudor touches on topics as diverse as shamanism, clan-ism, the dilemma posed by North Korea, and the growing international appeal of South Korean pop culture.
This new edition has been updated with additional materials on recent events, including the impeachment of Park Geun-hye and the sinking of the Sewol Ferry. Although South Korea has long been overshadowed by Japan and China, Korea: The Impossible Country illuminates how this small country is one of the great success stories of the postwar period.
One of the few Americans granted entry into the secretive "Hermit Kingdom," Kim came to know the isolated country and its people intimately. His North Korean friends entrusted their secrets to him as they revealed the government's brainwashing tactics and confessed their true thoughts about the repressive regime that so rigidly controls their lives. Civilians and soldiers alike spoke of what North Koreans think of Americans and war with America. Children remembered the suffering they endured through the famine. Women and girls recalled their horrific experiences at the hands of sex-traffickers. Former political prisoners shared their memories of beatings, torture, and executions in the gulags.
With the permission of these courageous individuals, Kim now shares their stories and recounts his dramatic experiences leading North Koreans to asylum through the six-thousand-mile modern-day underground railway through Asia. His unflinching narrative exposes the truth about North Korea, stripping away the last veils that still shroud this brutal dictatorship.
"What would you want if you could have any wish?" asked the photojournalist of the haggard, bloodied Marine before him. The Marine gaped at his interviewer. The photographer snapped his picture, which became the iconic Korean War image featured on this book's jacket. "Give me tomorrow," he said at last.
After nearly four months of continuous and agonizing combat on the battlefields of Korea, such a simple request seemed impossible. For many men of George Company, or "Bloody George" as they were known-one of the Forgotten War's most decorated yet unrecognized companies-it was a wish that would not come true.
This is the untold story of "Bloody George," a Marine company formed quickly to answer its nation's call to duty in 1950. This small band of men-a colorful cast of characters, including a Native American fighting to earn his honor as a warrior, a Southern boy from Tennessee at odds with a Northern blue-blood reporter-turned-Marine, and a pair of twins who exemplified to the group the true meaning of brotherhood-were mostly green troops who had been rushed through training to fill America's urgent need on the Korean front. They would find themselves at the tip of the spear in some of the Korean War's bloodiest battles.
After storming ashore at Inchon and fighting house-to-house in Seoul, George Company, one of America's last units in reserve, found itself on the frozen tundra of the Chosin Reservoir facing elements of an entire division of Chinese troops. They didn't realize it then, but they were soon to become crucial to the battle-modern-day Spartans called upon to hold off ten times their number. Give Me Tomorrow is their unforgettable story of bravery and courage.
Thoroughly researched and vividly told, Give Me Tomorrow is fitting testament to the heroic deeds of George Company. They will never again be forgotten.
For decades, North Korea denied any part in the disappearance of dozens of Japanese citizens from Japan’s coastal towns and cities in the late 1970s. But in 2002, with his country on the brink of collapse, Kim Jong-il admitted to the kidnapping of thirteen people and returned five of them in hopes of receiving Japanese aid. As part of a global espionage project, the regime had attempted to reeducate these abductees and make them spy on its behalf. When the scheme faltered, the captives were forced to teach Japanese to North Korean spies and make lives for themselves, marrying, having children, and posing as North Korean civilians in guarded communities known as “Invitation-Only Zones”—the fiction being that they were exclusive enclaves, not prisons.
From the moment Robert S. Boynton saw a photograph of these men and women, he became obsessed with their story. Torn from their homes as young adults, living for a quarter century in a strange and hostile country, they were returned with little more than an apology from the secretive regime.
In The Invitation-Only Zone, Boynton untangles the bizarre logic behind the abductions. Drawing on extensive interviews with the abductees, Boynton reconstructs the story of their lives inside North Korea and ponders the existential toll the episode has had on them, and on Japan itself. He speaks with nationalists, spies, defectors, diplomats, abductees, and even crab fishermen, exploring the cultural and racial tensions between Korea and Japan that have festered for more than a century.
A deeply reported, thoroughly researched book, The Invitation-Only Zone is a riveting story of East Asian politics and of the tragic human consequences of North Korea’s zealous attempt to remain relevant in the modern world.
Published now in paperback, this incredible story is based on first hand interviews from surviving veterans, telling of heroism and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, as a handful of Marines fought desperately against wave after wave of Chinese forces. Sometimes forced into desperate hand to hand combat, the fighting retreat from Chosin marked one of the darkest moments for Western forces in Korea, but would go on to resonate with generations of Marines as a symbol of the Marine Corps' dogged determination, fighting skill, and never-say-die attitude on the battlefield.
Eckert explores a wide range of themes, including the roots of capitalist development in Korea, the origins of the modern business elite, the nature of Japanese colonial policy and the Japanese colonial state, the relationship between the colonial government and the Korean economic elite, and the nature of Korean collaboration. He conveys a clear sense of the human complexity, archival richness, and intellectual challenge of the historical period. His documentation is thorough; his arguments are compelling and often strikingly innovative.
The best way to learn Korean—this book uses a lighthearted, humorous approach. Korean for Beginners starts by showing you just how reasoned and logical the Korean alphabet, hangeul, actually is, and helps you master it faster than you learned the English alphabet. Realistic situations you might encounter in Korea in Korean-speaking environments are described, and new words are explained in terms of how you'll find them useful to communicate. Numerous illustrations enliven the text, and downloadable audio lets you listen and repeat phrases in the book. Soon you'll be able to say with pride, "I know Korean!" Features of Korean for Beginners are: Learn to read Korean writing with ease. Practical phrases help you converse with confidence. A lighthearted "guide" walks you through, bringing the language to life. Downloadable audio with native Korean speakers helps you to speak Korean like a pro.
As the more than 1 million Americans who speak Korean can attest, the Korean language is here to stay, and generations of young (and older) adults are determined to learn it. This book is for people who want a grasp of how to speak, write and understand Korean—and who want to enjoy things while they're at it!
Award-winning BBC journalist John Sweeney is one of the few foreign journalists to have witnessed the devastating reality of life in the controversial and isolated nation of North Korea, having entered the country undercover, posing as a university professor with a group of students from the London School of Economics.
Huge factories with no staff or electricity; hospitals with no patients; uniformed child soldiers; and the world-famous and eerily empty DMZ—the DeMilitarized Zone, where North Korea ends and South Korea begins—all framed by the relentless flow of regime propaganda from omnipresent loudspeakers. Free speech is an illusion: one word out of line and the gulag awaits. State spies are everywhere, ready to punish disloyalty and the slightest sign of discontent.
Drawing on his own experiences and his extensive interviews with defectors and other key witnesses, Sweeney's North Korea Undercover pulls back the curtain, providing a rare insight into life there today, examining the country's troubled history and addressing important questions about its uncertain future.
Kimchi, K-pop, taekwondo, Samsung—the images that most people get when they think of Korea don’t stray much beyond the usual ones. But there are so many more fascinating sides to Korea. A cultural anthropologist with over 20 years of personal experience in Korea, author Benjamin Joinau introduces readers to the various faces of Korea outside those that Koreans typically like to present, guided by Elodie Dornand de Rouville’s refreshingly original and detailed illustrations—Korean society through the eyes of two foreigners. Grab a copy and let's take a look at the real faces of Korea, past and present.
One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders. Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground—the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias. By fostering an awareness of life outside North Korea and enhancing cultural knowledge, the materials these citizens disseminate are affecting the social and political consciousness of a people, as well as their everyday lives.
Who are the Koreans? What are they like? The New Koreans examines how they have been perceived by outsiders, the features that color their “national character,” and how their emergence from backwardness, poverty, and brutality happened. It also looks at why they remain unhappy—with the lowest birth rates and highest suicide rates in the developed world.
In The New Koreans, Michael Breen provides compelling insight into the history and character of this fascinating nation of South Korea, and casts an eye to future developments, as well as across the DMZ into North Korea.