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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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.
With a New Foreword

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.

An eye-opening account of life inside North Korea—a closed world of increasing global importance—hailed as a “tour de force of meticulous reporting” (The New York Review of Books)
 
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
**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.
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.
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