Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Two Koreas

I just finished this book this week, after borrowing it months ago from my friend Chris Hodam. (Chris, eventually, I'm going to watch TaeGukI and get that back to you, too!) It was a great read, a must read for any foreigners living in or interested in Korea.
This is a "modern history" telling the story of North and South Korea from the end of WWII to 2001. It focuses on politics and on the relationships between the two Koreas and other nations (especially China, USSR/Russia, USA, Japan, and Eastern Europe). This book helped me assemble the fragments of my knowledge about South Korea's political history into a cohesive whole, and it gave me my first in depth look at North Korea's systems, history, and politics.
What makes this book stand out as different from any other history book I've ever read is the amazing amount of first hand interviews and information. The author (Don Oberdorfer) was a journalist in Korea for several decades, so he interviewed almost all of the key players while they were in office. In preparation for writing this book, he interviewed in person or by mail countless diplomats, national administrators, and national leaders (including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Gorbachev!). It was amazing to read again and again something like this: "The first time I met President Kim Young Nam (substitute any major leader), he appeared to be ..."
If you live in Korea, or if you just like history, pick up this book. You'll be surprised how fast it reads!
Post a Comment