A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present

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Overview

In this comprehensive yet compact book, Michael J. Seth surveys Korean history from Neolithic times to the present. He explores the origins and development of Korean society, politics, and still little-known cultural heritage, showing how this ancient, culturally and ethnically homogeneous society was wrenched into the modern world, ultimately to be arbitrarily divided into two opposed halves after World War II. Tracing the six decades since, Seth explains how the two Koreas, with their deeply different political and social systems and geopolitical orientations, evolved into sharply contrasting societies. Throughout, he adds a rich dimension by placing Korean history into broader global perspective and by including primary readings from each era. All readers looking for a balanced knowledgeable history will be richly rewarded with this clear and concise book.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
A History of Korea combines Seth's previous surveys of Korean history (A Concise History of Korea, CH, Mar'07, 44-4017; A Concise History of Modern Korea, CH, Jun'10, 47-5815) to provide a general history of Korea from prehistoric times to the present. The book fills an important need for an up-to-date reference survey that includes coverage of both the modern and pre-modern periods in one volume. Seth (James Madison Univ.) proceeds chronologically, dividing each major period into topical overviews. Political and social history receive the greatest emphasis, and each chapter ends with one or two selections translated from Korean-language primary sources. Substantial endnotes and an annotated bibliography will help readers push more deeply into English studies of Korean history, and a Korean pronunciation guide will aid students. The prose is extremely clear. . . . An excellent choice for any collegiate library that covers East Asia at all. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
CHOICE
A History of Korea combines Seth's previous surveys of Korean history (A Concise History of Korea; A Concise History of Modern Korea) to provide a general history of Korea from prehistoric times to the present. The book fills an important need for an up-to-date reference survey that includes coverage of both the modern and pre-modern periods in one volume. Seth proceeds chronologically, dividing each major period into topical overviews. Political and social history receive the greatest emphasis, and each chapter ends with one or two selections translated from Korean-language primary sources. Substantial endnotes and an annotated bibliography will help readers push more deeply into English studies of Korean history, and a Korean pronunciation guide will aid students. The prose is extremely clear. . . . An excellent choice for any collegiate library that covers East Asia at all. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
John Lie
Michael Seth somehow manages to pack an enormous amount of information into his short overview of the Korean peninsula's long history. With a useful glossary and a helpful bibliography, A History of Korea is especially recommended for those without any prior knowledge of Korean history and culture.
Journal of Korean Studies
This textbook is as trustworthy and user-friendly as any other English-language surveys of Korean history from ancient time to the present day and includes much more information. For example, no other survey of Korean history from ancient times to the present includes as much information on North Korea after 1945 than Seth includes in two of his chapters, one on the North from 1945 to 1993 and another covering from 1993 until just a couple years before Kim Jong Il’ s death. Seth stands out on his treatment of prehistory as well. Devoting a full chapter on prehistory, Seth takes his time discussing the beginnings of pottery, agriculture, and bronze making. . . . Overall, A History of Korea is a reliable and comprehensive guide.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742567160
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 552
  • Sales rank: 501,037
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Seth is associate professor of East Asian and world history at James Madison University.
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Table of Contents

List of Primary Source Readings xi

Maps xiii

Introduction 1

1 The Origins 9

The Koreans 9

Early Inhabitants 10

The Age of Rice Farming Begins 13

Sources for Early Korea 16

Choson 16

The Chinese Commanderies 18

Chinese Commanderies and Their Neighbors: The Northern Peoples 20

Chinese Commanderies and Their Neighbors: The Southern Peoples 22

Politics of the Third Century 23

Korea in Global Perspective: 5,000 Years of History 24

2 The Period of the Three Kingdoms, 4th Century to 676 27

The Emergence of the Three Kingdoms 28

The Wa and the Mimana 31

Korea and Northeast Asia in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries 32

Culture and Society of the Three Kingdoms 34

The Bone-Ranks, the Hwabaek, and the Hwarang 39

The Changing Environment of the Late Sixth and Seventh Centuries 42

The Unification of Korea under Silla 44

Korea in Global Perspective: State Formation 46

3 Late Silla, 676 to 935 49

The Peninsular Kingdom 49

Consolidation of Central Monarchical Rule under Silla, 676-780 50

Silla and the Chinese Model 52

Supporting the Silla State 53

Silla Society 57

Silla and Its Neighbors 64

Parhae 67

The Decline of Silla 69

The Later Three Kingdoms 70

Korea in Global Perspective: Silla's Rise and Fall 73

4 Koryo, 935 to 1170 77

The New Koryo State 77

Koryo in East Asia 85

Internal Politics, 935-1170 88

Koryo Culture 90

The Samguk Sagi 93

Koryo Society 95

Korea in Global Perspective: Koryo's Examination System 98

5 Military Rulers and Mongol Invaders, 1170 to 1392 103

Military Rule 103

Son Buddhism 107

Korea, Japan, and Feudal Europe 108

The Mongol Invasions 110

The Legacy of the Mongol Period 113

Late Koryo Society 115

The End of the Koryo 116

Late Koryo Culture 118

The Rise of Neo-Confucianism 120

Korea in Global Perspective: The Mongols and Korea 123

6 The Neo-Confucian Revolution and the Choson State, 1392 to the 18th Century 127

Establishing the Yi Dynasty 127

The Choson State 131

The Censorate and the Classics Mat 133

Historians 134

The Examination System 135

Education 139

Agricultural Improvements and the State 141

Military and Foreign Affairs 142

The Japanese and Manchu Invasions 146

Competition for Power among the Elite 150

Choson Politics in Perspective 154

Korea in Global Perspective: Choson as an Ideologically Driven State 154

7 Choson Society 157

The Family 158

Women during the Yi Dynasty 161

Social Structure 165

Slaves and Outcastes 167

Crime and Punishment 172

Religious Beliefs and Practices 174

Philosophy 176

Arts, Literature, and Science 179

Technology and Inventions 184

Korea in Global Perspective: Women in Korea 184

Korea in Global Perspective: Choson's Social Hierarchy 186

8 Late Choson, Early 18th Century to 1876 189

The Politics of Late Choson 190

Late Choson and the Confucian World Order 191

Korean Travelers to China and Japan 194

Taxation and Reform 197

Agriculture 200

Commerce and Trade 201

Cultural Flowering of Late Choson 204

Sirhak 210

Everyday Life 212

Korea in the Nineteenth Century: The "Hermit Kingdom" 215

Internal Problems in the Nineteenth Century 216

Korea in Global Perspective: The Hermit Kingdom? 221

9 Korea in the Age of Imperialism, 1876 to 1910 225

Early Contacts with the West 225

The Opening of Korea 230

Early Reforms, 1876-1884 234

The Chinese Decade, 1885-1894 240

The Tonghak Rebellion 243

Kabo Reforms 246

The Russian Ascendency and the Independence Club 249

The Russo-Japanese War and the Protectorate 252

The Protectorate, 1905-1910 254

Korea in Transition 257

Korea in Global Perspective: Korea in the Age of Imperialism 259

10 Colonial Korea, 1910 to 1945 265

The March First Movement 267

The Post-March First Period 269

Cultural Ferment of the 1920s 271

Moderate and Radical Nationalism 272

Economic Development 280

Modernity and Social Change 282

Rural Society 289

Wartime Colonialism, 1931-1945 292

Forced Assimilation 296

A Society in Turmoil: The Legacy of Colonial Rule 297

Korea in Global Perspective: The Korean Nationalist Movement 299

Korea in Global Perspective: Korea's Colonial Experience 300

11 Division and War, 1945 to 1953 305

The End of Colonial Rule in Korea 308

North Korea under Soviet Occupation 309

South Korea under U.S. Occupation 311

Trusteeship 312

Establishing a Separate Regime in the North 313

The Beginnings of a New Regime in the South 314

Toward Division 316

The Republic of Korea 317

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea 320

On the Eve of the Korean War 321

The Korean War 324

The Impact of the Korean War 332

Korea in Global Perspective: Divided Countries 333

Korea in Global Perspective: The Korean War 334

12 North Korea: Recovery, Transformation, and Decline, 1953 to 1993 339

The Divergent Paths of the Two Koreas 339

North Korea's Recovery 340

Political Consolidation 344

The Changing International Situation 347

Confrontational Stance toward the South and the United States 350

Relentless Militarization 353

The Ideology of Self-Reliance 355

The Cult of the Kim Family 358

Society 362

Economic Problems 365

Korea in Global Perspective: North Korea as a Communist Country 368

13 South Korea: From Poverty to Prosperity, 1953 to 1997 373

The Syngman Rhee Years, 1953-1960 373

The Democratic Experiment, 1960-1961 376

The Military Coup 378

Economic Transformation 381

Economic Growth under Park Chung Hee 383

Chaebols 389

Transformation of the Countryside 392

Economic Development in the 1980s 394

Explaining South Korea's Economic Miracle 395

Education 398

Korea in Global Perspective: Educational Development 400

Korea in Global Perspective: Economic Development 401

14 South Korea: Creating a Democratic Society, 1953 to 1997 405

Military Authoritarianism 405

The Yushin Era, 1971-1979 407

Seoul Spring, 1979-1980 411

The Fifth Republic 414

1987: A Political Turning Point 415

Transition to Democracy 418

Understanding the Democratic Turn 422

Student Activism 426

Organized Labor 428

Social and Cultural Transition 431

Korea in Global Perspective: Democratization 434

15 Contemporary North Korea, 1993 to 2010 437

In Decline 437

A Period of Crisis 439

Under Kim Jong II 441

Ideology 442

Famine 444

Crisis and Summitry 446

Tentative Reforms 448

Confrontations and the Policy of Survival 451

Korea in Global Perspective: North Korea's Famine 457

Korea in Global Perspective: North Korea as a Failed State 458

16 Contemporary South Korea, 1997 to 2010 465

Return to Civilian Government 465

Economic Crisis and Recovery 469

Domestic Politics 471

Foreign Policy 477

Rethinking Reunification 480

A Society Undergoing Rapid Change 481

Changing Gender Relations, Changing Families 485

Ethnic Homogeneity 487

Facing History and Preserving Heritage 489

New Crises and New Problems 491

Korea in Global Perspective: South Korea's Place in the World 492

Conclusion 497

Appendix Romanization 503

Notes 507

Glossary of Korean Words 529

Annotated Selected Bibliography 539

Index 555

About the Author 573

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  • Posted March 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book does a really good job of putting Korean history in th

    This book does a really good job of putting Korean history in the broader context of East Asia, and it provides an excellent case study of a smaller state in the shadow of giants dancing around it. The fact that it goes from prehistoric Korea to modern Korea also makes this book an excellent center point from which to begin other readings into Korean history. All in one book, it gives lots of names and events that you will need to look up for further reading, and it even shows multiple romanizations for Korean names.

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