Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History, Revisedby Bruce Cumings
Pub. Date: 09/19/2005
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Korea has endured a "fractured, shattered twentieth century," and this updated edition brings Bruce Cumings's leading history of the modern era into the present. The small country, overshadowed in the imperial era, crammed against great powers
"Passionate, cantankerous, and fascinating. Rather like Korea itself."--Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times Book Review
Korea has endured a "fractured, shattered twentieth century," and this updated edition brings Bruce Cumings's leading history of the modern era into the present. The small country, overshadowed in the imperial era, crammed against great powers during the Cold War, and divided and decimated by the Korean War, has recently seen the first real hints of reunification. But positive movements forward are tempered by frustrating steps backward. In the late 1990s South Korea survived its most severe economic crisis since the Korean War, forcing a successful restructuring of its political economy. Suffering through floods, droughts, and a famine that cost the lives of millions of people, North Korea has been labeled part of an "axis of evil" by the George W. Bush administration and has renewed its nuclear threats. On both sides Korea seems poised to continue its fractured existence on into the new century, with potential ramifications for the rest of the world.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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I am Korean Some what of a History buff, having said that, I think I am qualified to be critical of this book. As I stated in head line, this book as read in synopsis as well as in review describes Korean status pretty well. How Korea become as known today is- yes- influenced by largely by United States (or in part as some might argue), based on misconception or preconception that stems from an ideal that most western culture bought into, that Japanese colonization of Korea was not only accepted and had participated in large part of Korean modernization. This misconception led to -in my view- U.S occupational forces rule of Korea and actions it took. During its occupation, and in midst of forming new Korean government U.S occupational Forces intentionally or unintentionally, disregarded existence of Interim Korean Government based in Shanghai, China during Japanese colonization. (Koreans had unofficial Government during the war era and through out Japanese occupation after Japanese has toppled Yi dynasty of Cho Sen-name of Korea at the time and had engaged in combat and assassination attempts of Japanese political and military leaders) Yet, U.S occupational Forces still allowed most of Koreans whom politically connected and former Japanese collaborator in power to do their political will, this was done despite most Koreans loathed the idea. Unfortunately, this very notion of former traitors if you will (Japanese collaborator) holds most pristine political power in the South Korea government dominates among the Koreans even to this day, by both South and North alike. Therefore, While It is true that South Korea and people were saved by U.S involvement in Korean war, but it can also argued, if Koreans were left along to be ruled by Koreans without U.S and soviet union¿s occupation forces rule over Korea peninsula, the country may not have divided into two. However, instead of letting most popular and revered leader of that interim government rule the country U.S backed U S educated preacher named lee sung man who also happened to be married to an American woman. which, by doing so United states government knowingly or unknowingly erected a puppet government and followers of lee however lee became dictator, were royal to him and Lee in turn royal to United States, while leaving war criminals of Japanese collaborators in most Koreans mind, to be free and of course free of guilt and most importantly, still with powers that they have enjoyed during Japanese occupation. This phenomenon led most Koreans to despair, and to come to realization of Honor do not pay. Thus, Most Koreans start to abandon time honored traditional value - that is being straight as an arrow when it comes to ethic, royalty to the people and do anything for greater goods then petty personal gain. Koreans as result begin to embrace most capitalistic ideal to the extreme, they become short sighted and started looking immediate gains, and personal gain without regard to others. which resulted in the corruption -of the Korean political arena in general. This phenomenon in turn led to most Koreans to mistrust the public servant. The author is very sharp for someone who is not Korean and does not have extensive Korean history education as do native Korean,and his assessment of Korea in general is in most part very painfully realistic.