Korea: The Impossible Country: South Korea's Amazing Rise from the Ashes: The Inside Story of an Economic, Political and Cultural Phenomenon

Tuttle Publishing
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"Daniel Tudor covers all the important issues, yet does not simply tell the more familiar stories, but looks deeper and wider to give the full story of Korea today." —Martin Uden, Former British Ambassador to South Korea

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.
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About the author

Daniel Tudor is from Manchester, England, and graduated with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. He has lived in Seoul for a many years and served as Korea Correspondent for The Economist from 2010-2013. His first book Korea: The Impossible Country received high praise and has been translated into Korean, Chinese, Polish, and Thai. A subsequent book, North Korea Confidential (with James Pearson), was selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2015. He is also co-founder of Seoul-based The Booth Brewing Company.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Tuttle Publishing
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Published on
Nov 10, 2012
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781462910229
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / International / Economics
History / Asia / Korea
History / Social History
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
Travel / Asia / Far East
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The rise of South Korea is one of the most unexpected and inspirational developments of the latter part of our century. A few decades ago, the Koreans were an impoverished, agricultural people. In one generation they came out of the fields and into Silicon Valley. In 1997, this powerhouse of a nation reeled and almost collapsed as a result of a weak financial system and heavily indebted conglomerates. The world is now watching to see whether the Koreans will be able to reform and continue their stunning growth.

Although Korea has only recently found itself a part of the global stage, it is a country with a rich and complex past. Early history shows that Koreans had a huge influence on ancient Japan, and their historic achievements include being the first culture to use metal movable type for printing books. However, much of their history is less positive; it is marred with political violence, poverty, and war--aspects that would sooner be forgotten by the Koreans, who are trying to focus on their promising future.

The fact that Korean history has eluded much of the world is unfortunate, but as Korea becomes more of a global player, understanding and appreciation for this unique nation has become indispensable.

In The Koreans, Michael Breen provides an in-depth portrait of the country and its people. An early overview of the nature and values of the Korean people provides the background for a more detailed examination of the complex history of the country, in particular its division into the Communist north and pro-Western south.

In this absorbing and enlightening account of the Koreans, Michael Breen provides compelling insight into the history and character of this fascinating nation.

For every fan of K-Pop music, Korean Wave dramas and Kimchi—or anyone intrigued by Korea and Korean culture—A Geek in Korea is a hip, new guide to the land of the Samsung smartphone and Gangnam Style.

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.
“I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea.”

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.
**Named one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist**

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.
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