London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

LKL book database logo

Korea Witness: 135 Years of War, Crisis and News in the Land of the Morning Calm

Publisher description:

This book follows the long journey of correspondents who have passed through Korea.

Since the first of them, photographer Felice Beato, arrived in 1871 with American troops invading Kangwha Island, foreign journalists have puzzled over this land, as complicated and fascinating now as 135 years ago.

Famed author Jack London grappled with a blind horse. War reporters lived and died in sweltering heat and icy cold recording the horrors of the Korean War. Correspondents covered revolt and bloodshed in Gwangju, endured hours in the KCIA s dreaded interrogation center, and witnessed an assassination.

These and many more episodes, chronicled here, reflect the violence and vitality of the land of the morning calm.


I. Hermit Kingdom: Early Inklings

Bethell’s Tale (Christopher Torchia) | Nineteenth-Century Style (Robert Neff) | The First Korean War (Norman Thorpe) | Bedside At A Revolt (Mary Linley Taylor) | How Japan Covered Korea (Masaharu Shimokawa) | Japanese Correspondents In Korea (Hiromi Kamoshita, Hayami Ichikawa, Shinichi Hirano, Ruriko Kubota, Yuji Tamamoto)

II. Forgotten War: Holocaust (1950-53)

Glory and Tragedy: Some Won Prizes, Others Died  | Life And Death Of A Correspondent (Eamon Dyas) | Traveller’s Tales: Covering The War In Korea (Louis Heren) | From Invasion To Armistice  (John Rich) | From Day One (Frank Gibney) | War of Scoops (Bill Shinn) | A Woman at War (Marguerite Higgins) | Cry Peace (Robert Elegant) | The Story Behind The Story Of No Gun Ri (Choe Sang Hun) | Mystery Correspendent (Charles A Pomeroy) | Saving War Orphan (Jack Russell)

III. Dicatorship Under Fire: Generals and Journalists

Hotel KCIA (K.C. Hwang) | Flashbacks (Bernard Krisher) | First Red Cross Talks (Don Oberdorfer) | An Inspiring Story (Sam Jameson) | Nightmare Come True (Richard Halloran) | Shots Are Heard (Kim Myong-sik) | The Bang-Bang Brigade (Bradley K Martin) | A Dark Chapter (Paul Shin)

IV. Time Of Rebellion: Gwangju Memories

From Park To Revolt (Shim Jae-hoon) | Images Of Horror (Philippe Pons) | Eyewitness (Juergen Hinzpeter) | Korea’s Tiananmen (Norman Thorpe) | With Terry At The Crunch (John Needham) | Seven Years Later (Roger Crabb)

V. Time of Transition: Dictatorship to Democracy

The Manipulator (Sam Jameson) | Looking Ahead (Henry Scott-Stokes) | Affair of the Heart (Mike Tharp) | At Work And Play (Norman Pearlstine) | Democracy Protests (Michael Breen) | From DJ To The DMZ (Donald Kirk) | My First Foreign Correspendent (Choe Sang-hun) | Into The 80’s (Edwin Q White) | Fireen, Florists And Free Speech (Tracy Dahlby) | Memories, First And Last (Joe Manguno)

VI. Glory, Shocks and Scandals: The Olympics and Beyond

Let The Games Begin (Charles Whelan) | Olympics To World Cup (Chi Jung-nam) | Year Of Living Dangerously (Sohn Jie-ae) | Into The IMF Era (Bill Austin) | Under IMF Control (Lee Byung-jong | Korean vs. Japan: Conflict and Cooperation (Yuji Yamamoto) | The Fall of Scientist Hwang Woo Suk (Jon Herskovitz) | Covering For Television (Bruce Dunning) | On The Bright Side (Maeng Joo-seok) | Film In Foreign Eyes (Mark Russell) | Bicultural Journalism (Hal Piper)

VII. To The North: Inside a Workers’ Paradise

Looking Back: Inter-Korean Relations (Zhang Jin Fang) | To the Bosom of the Great Leader (Michael Breen) | Fourth Tunnel (Michael Breen) | Dateline Pyongyang (Andrew Salmon) | Covering North Korea (Barbara Demick) | A Matter Of Access (Donald Kirk) | New Beginning That Wasn’t (John Barry Kotch) | Thank You, North Korea (Lim Yun Suk) | U.S. Media and the Korean Peninsula (Donald Macintyre)

VIII. Defending Correspondents: Rise and Role of the SFCC

How the SFCC Began (K.C.Hwang) | How Free The Press? (Katsuhiro Kuroda) | Names and Faces (Paul Shin) | Hite Beer and the Defenestrator (William Tarrant) | Battling The System (Lee Su Wan)

LKL says:

The strength of this book is undoubtedly the way it brings history to life…a great book to dip into, or read from cover to cover, to be presented with a vivid picture of Korean modern history from people who witnessed it happening.

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-1score-0. Read our review of this book here.

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.