Understanding Korean Politics: An Introduction

SUNY Press
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Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary Korea and East Asia, this book provides a comprehensive and balanced introduction to contemporary Korean politics. It explicates the great changes in South Korea, which has gone from being one of the poorest nations to a proud member of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation while making the transition to democracy. The work focuses on the geopolitical and cultural setting, historical evolution, institutional foundation, dynamics of political leadership, and political and administrative processes of Korean politics. It also features chapters on political determinants of the rise and decline of the Korean economy, foreign and unification policy of South Korea, and political development and decay in North Korea.
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About the author

Soong Hoom Kil is a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and former Professor of Political Science at Seoul National University. He is the author of Contemporary Japanese Politics.

Chung-in Moon is Professor of Political Science at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. He is the author of several books, including Globalization and Democratization in South Korea: Assessments and Projects and Democracy and the Korean Economy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Mar 10, 2010
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9780791491010
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Korea
Political Science / International Relations / General
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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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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. 

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.

The terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001 prompted a president, who had until then largely been disinterested in international affairs, to a new level of commitment to foreign policy. So too did the tragedy renew American awareness of the precarious state of national security, even in the post-Cold War era. As so often has occurred in American history, the events also occasioned a new approach to national security policy, conceived in the specific threat, fashioned by the international environment, and reflecting the president's worldview and ideological orientation. As is the case of the events (threats) themselves, the national security response they foster is often so dramatic that it comes to define the presidency of its maker, influence affairs far beyond America's borders, and dictate US foreign and national security policy for years to come. Shifts in US national security thinking of this magnitude are referred to as presidential doctrines. Often, these doctrines -- axioms that bear the president's name -- have been delivered in a major address by the president such as a speech to a joint session of Congress. The first presidential doctrine was announced by President James Monroe on 2 December 1823 during his seventh annual message to Congress. An international version of this phenomenon would be Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech. Such was also the case when President George W. Bush addressed the nation in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This new and thought-provoking book examines American national security policies in the 20th century, the century in which America rose to superpower or hyperpower status. The same policies will probably determine how long she holds such a powerful position.
“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.
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