Korea: The Impossible Country

Korea: The Impossible Country

by Daniel Tudor

Paperback

$29.40

Overview

South Korea's amazing rise from the ashes: the inside story of an economic, political, and cultural phenomenon

Long overshadowed by Japan and China, South Korea is a small country that happens to be one of the great national success stories of the postwar period. From a failed state with no democratic tradition, ruined and partitioned by war, and sapped by a half-century of colonial rule, South Korea transformed itself in just fifty years into an economic powerhouse and a democracy that serves as a model for other countries. With no natural resources and a tradition of authoritarian rule, Korea managed to accomplish a second Asian miracle.

Daniel Tudor is a journalist who has lived in and written about Korea for almost a decade. In Korea: The Impossible Country, Tudor examines Korea's cultural foundations; the Korean character; the public sphere in politics, business, and the workplace as well as the family, dating, and marriage. In doing so, he touches on topics as diverse as shamanism, clan-ism, the dilemma posed by North Korea, the myths about doing business in Korea, the Koreans' renowned hard-partying ethos, and why the infatuation with learning English is now causing massive social problems.

South Korea has undergone two miracles at once: economic development and complete democratization. The question now is, will it become as some see Japan, a prosperous yet aging society, devoid of energy and momentum? Or will the dynamism of Korean society and its willingness to change—as well as the opportunity it has now to welcome outsiders into its fold—enable it to experience a third miracle that will propel it into the ranks of the world's leading nations regarding human culture, democracy, and wealth?

More than just one journalist's account, Korea: The Impossible Country also draws on interviews with many of the people who made South Korea what it is today. These include:

  • Choi Min-sik, the star of "Old Boy."
  • Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul.
  • Soyeon Yi, Korea's first astronaut Hong Myung-bo, legendary captain of Korea's 2002 FIFA World Cup team.
  • Shin Joong-hyun, the 'Godfather of Korean Rock.'
  • Ko Un, poet.
  • Hong Seok-cheon, restaurateur, and the first Korean celebrity to 'come out.'

And many more, including a former advisor to President Park Chung-hee; a Shaman priestess ('mudang'); the boss of Korea's largest matchmaking agency; a 'room salon' hostess; an architect; as well as chefs, musicians, academics, entrepreneurs, homemakers, and chaebol conglomerate employees.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789570843118
Publisher: Lian Jing/Tsai Fong Books
Publication date: 12/28/2013
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Daniel Tudor has lived in Seoul for many years and served as Korea Correspondent for The Economist from 2010u2013. His book, North Korea Confidential (with James Pearson), was selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2015. He holds degrees from Oxford University and Manchester University in England and has worked in finance in both Korea and Switzerland.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, Caveats, and a Note on Names 7

Introduction 9

A Brief History of Korea 12

Part I Foundations

Chapter 1 Shamanism and the Spirit World 24

Chapter 2 Buddhism 34

Chapter 3 Confucianism 42

Chapter 4 Christianity 54

Chapter 5 Capitalism with a Korean Face 66

Chapter 6 Democracy: Beyond Asian Values 78

Part II Cultural Codes

Chapter 7 Jeong-The "Invisible Hug" 92

Chapter 8 Competition 101

Chapter 9 Chemyon, or Face 112

Chapter 10 Han and Heung 120

Chapter 11 From Clan to Nuclear Family 128

Chapter 12 Neophilia 139

Part III Hyun-Shil: Cold Reality

Chapter 13 North Korea: Friend, Foe, or Foreigner? 148

Chapter 14 Politics and the Media 158

Chapter 15 Onward, Industrial Soldiers 170

Chapter 16 "More Important than the Business Itself" 182

Chapter 17 Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Perfect 192

Chapter 18 English Mania 202

Part IV In The Hours Not Spent Working

Chapter 19 Living Space: From Hanok to Apartment Houses and Back Again 212

Chapter 20 Four Seasons at the Dinner Table 220

Chapter 21 Cinema: Boom, Bust, and Brilliance 229

Chapter 22 More Than K-Pop 240

Chapter 23 Work All Day, Stay Out All Night 250

Part V More of "Us," Less of "Them"

Chapter 24 Defensive Nationalism 260

Chapter 25 Multicultural Korea? 271

Chapter 26 "Its Our Turn" 279

Chapter 27 "We Are Not Aliens, From Another Cosmos" 291

Chapter 28 A Woman's Place Is in the Office 298

Epilogue: Where Is the Champagne? 309

Index 313

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