History of Korea (Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations Series)

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The Koreas are two of the few countries in the East Asian world to successfully maintain political and cultural independence from China. Originated by the Han-Ye-Maek people who had migrated from North China to Manchuria and the Korean peninsula since 2000 BCE, three Korean dynasties—Great Silla, Koryo, and Choson—kept peace and prosperity in the country since the 7th century, nurturing a civilization based on Buddhism, Confucianism and the East Asian world-system. Korea, despite experiencing Japanese dominion and the nation's division, now looks forward to enjoying its prosperity as a member of the global community and to seeing a unified Korea. This volume provides a comprehensive review of Korea's history, from its roots in Neolithic civilization, and the tradition and evolution of nation-building in the traditional East Asian world system, through Korea's global setting in modern times. Also included are a biographical section highlighting famous figures in Korean history, a timeline of important historical events, a glossary of Korean terms, and a bibliographical essay with suggestions for further reading.

The historical origin of Korean identity in the East Asian world, Korea's failure to adapt to a changing East Asian world-system, as well as the political division Korea suffered in the second half of the 20th century are discussed. Readers will benefit from the inclusion of direct translations from original classical Chinese and Korean sources by the author. Excellent as a reference tool for students and general readers interested in the history of this unique nation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book might be a small step for Kim himself, but with the growing number of Korean Americans in each and every sector of the global society, the result could be a gigantic step for the country."


Korea Times

"[A] long overdue book that aims to meet the needs of foreigners seeking an easy to understand yet comprehensive volume on Korean history."


The Korea Herald

"College undergraduates can look forward to a new textbook….This text offers with surprising dexterity an overview of Korean history from the earliest times through the presidency of Kim Dae Jung….[t]his text should help new students of Korea gain a quick, relatively painless introduction to the highlights of Korea's history."


The Journal of Asian Studies

"[P]rovides a comprehensive review of Korea's history from the pre-history period to the former Kim dae-jung government."


Korea Times

"[K]ey to understanding Korea's place in the modern world….[s]urveys the social and political changes Korea has experienced over the centuries. Friom the three great Korean dynasties which kept peace starting in the 7th century to the influence of neighboring nations in modern times, readers receive a fine overview."


MBR Bookwatch

"[P]rovides middle and high school students and interested adult readers with comprehensive coverage of Korea's history, going back to its roots in Neolithic civilization. Kim discusses everything from tradition and the challenges of building a nation in the East Asian world system to Korea's global setting today."


Multicultural Review

"This book provides a review of Korea's history, from its roots in Neolithic civilization and the tradition and evolution of nation building in the traditional East Asian world system, through Korea's global setting in modern times. A timeline is followed by chapters on early history, Korea identity, medieval Korea, Korean tradition and modernization, and Japanese dominion. A biographical section highlighting famous figures in Korea, a glossary of selected terms, and a bibliographical essay are also included."


Reference & Research Book News

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Product Details

Meet the Author

DJUN KIL KIM served in the Korean government for more than two decades and was recently a visiting professor at Brigham Young University where he taught Korean history.

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Table of Contents

Series foreword
1 Introduction 1
2 Early history 13
3 Korean identity 33
4 Medieval Korea 51
5 Korean tradition 69
6 Modernization 99
7 Japanese dominion 119
8 House divided 141
Notable people in the history of Korea 181
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2005

    It's a superb guide into Korean history.

    This book, I believe, is a great introduction to the Korean history including North and South Koreas together. It is so well structured and easily written that the complexity of the East Asian country¿s long history comes to a reader¿s mind with a clear map of it. Having covered the country¿s history from the beginning to the present, it would satisfy those who want to know, refresh, or deepen the knowledge of the history of Korea. A distinct strength of the book is that it has a strong narrative that consistently offers a comparative historical framework whereby almost every bit of historical facts is symmetrically rearranged through the contrast between idealism and realism. The comparative framework was put into, I guess, since one cannot fully understand the country¿s history without considering the constant existence of imperialist powers -specifically, China and Japan from long ago, and Russia and the U.S. appeared later in its modern history - around the Korean peninsula. Against this backdrop, idealism has represented a political bloc which stressed the nation-state¿s independence from outside powers and sometimes tried to overturn the old paradigm in which the country was forced to take a subordinate position, especially with regard to China proper. To the contrary, realism has aimed to maintain the country¿s survival even at the cost of losing nationalistic pride to some extent with a full recognition of the international power order in the Far Eastern Asian region. The author shows that Korean history was full of the struggles between these two extreme antipodes of political views. Even apart from the book itself, the framework may be a powerful tool to understand Korea¿s present and future. For instance, it should be noted that the conflict is still going on if we think of the nuclear crisis between North Korea and the U.S. over a decade: North Korea has believed that its nuclear program would at least help protect its independence, or furthermore give it a strong balancing power against the U.S., whereas South Korea has wanted to resolve the crisis through a series of the international six-party talks because it takes a realistic view that the crisis could bring a disastrous outcome for both North and South Koreas. The book conveys not only hard cash of the Korean history but also soft lubricator of its cultural heritage to readers by presenting not a few nicely translated literary works from ancient times to modern period. The poems, various excerpts of old historical documents, or an eloquent statement of independence would invite a reader to some historic moments of vicissitudes of Korea. In a nutshell, this book has much potential to provide an unbiased and clear understanding of Korean history for English-speaking audiences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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