London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Justifying Violence on Korea’s Cold War Frontlines: The Life and Representations of Kim Tu-han [forthcoming]

The son of a nationalist martyr, Kim Tu-han (1918-1972) rose to prominence as a mobster in 1930s Seoul. As conditions shifted, he deployed his gang first as a construction corps supporting the Japanese war effort, then as a progressive force, and, most successfully, as an anti-communist vigilante group. After narrowly escaping the death sentence for … [Read More]

Skull Water [forthcoming]

A remarkable intergenerational coming-of-age novel set in South Korea—about friendship, belonging, and displacement. Growing up outside a US military base in South Korea in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Insu—the son of a Korean mother and a German father enlisted in the US Army—spends his days with his “half and half” friends skipping school, … [Read More]

100°C: South Korea’s 1987 Democracy Movement [forthcoming]

What does it take for ordinary citizens to risk everything to protest living under a repressive government? What takes them beyond the brink, to the “boiling point”? In his graphic novel 100°C, celebrated webtoon and comics artist Choi Kyu-sok sheds a light on these questions by examining the lives of one family caught up in the great … [Read More]

Calculated Nationalism in Contemporary South Korea: Movements for Political and Economic Democratization in the 21st Century [forthcoming]

Nationalism in a nation-state reflects its emergent structural, cultural, and personal properties at a given time. In the politico-historical context of South Korea and the globe, the fruits of the 1968 Revolution in France could not reach Korean society under its military regime and exploitative economic structure. This continued to frustrate the grassroots and especially social actors … [Read More]

Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea

The essential account of the South Korean 1980 pro-democracy rebellion On 18 May 1980, student activists gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to protest the martial law government of General Chun Doo-hwan. The security forces responded with unmitigated violence. Hundreds of students, activists and citizens were arrested, tortured and murdered. This fresh translation … [Read More]

Tigers Unchained: 100 Years of Korean Anarchism

From its introduction in the early-twentieth century during the National Liberation Movement to its influence on contemporary politics and culture, anarchism has had a deep, historical significance in Korea. Tigers Unchained explores that significance through lenses that are simultaneously political, cultural, historical, and aesthetic. This translation constitutes a major contribution to multiple fields, while providing new ways … [Read More]

Historical Statistics of Korea

This book presents economic statistics of Korea in the past three centuries, focusing on the century following 1910. The data, typically time series rather than cross-sectional, are given in 22 chapters, which refer to population, wages, prices, education, health, national income and wealth, and technology, among others. Rather than simply putting together available data, the … [Read More]

Race for Revival: How Cold War South Korea Shaped the American Evangelical Empire

In 1973, Billy Graham, “America’s Pastor,” held his largest ever “crusade.” But he was not, as one might expect, in the American heartland, but in South Korea. Why there? Race for Revival seeks not only to answer that question, but to retell the story of modern American evangelicalism through its relationship with South Korea. With the … [Read More]

Reflections from Prison: 20 Years and 20 Days

Reflections from Prison is a collection of letters and essays from renowned Korean thinker Shin Young-Bok written during his 20 years as a political prisoner under the military government. ​The letters range from post cards to tiny characters squeezed onto his Army Prison daily ration of two sheets of toilet paper. They provide a window not … [Read More]

The Prisoner

From the publisher’s website: A sweeping account of imprisonment—in time, in language, and in a divided country—from Korea’s most acclaimed novelist In 1993, writer and democracy activist Hwang Sok-yong was sentenced to five years in the Seoul Detention Center. Hwang’s imprisonment forced him to consider the many prisons to which he was subject—of thought, of … [Read More]

Financial Liberalization and Economic Development in Korea, 1980–2020

Since the early 1980s, Korea’s financial development has been a tale of liberalization and opening. After the 1997 financial crisis, great strides were made in building a market-oriented financial system through sweeping reforms for deregulation and the opening of financial markets. However, the new system failed to steer the country away from a credit card … [Read More]

Toward Democracy: South Korean Culture and Society, 1945–1980

From the publisher’s website: This volume brings together translated essays by fourteen established and emerging South Korean scholars. Using approaches from sociology, political science, history, and literary and cultural studies, the authors offer innovative and nuanced analyses of a wide range of topics—from refugee displacement to street politics, from anti-communism and democracy to militarization—and discuss … [Read More]

Witnessing Gwangju: A Memoir

From the publisher’s website: Witnessing Gwangju describes the life-altering experience of young Peace Corps volunteer, Paul Courtright.  Courtright was in the countryside of South Korea in 1980 to help leprosy patients. On the way back home from his medical checkup, Courtright was caught in the middle of what became known by some as the Gwangju Massacre, … [Read More]

A Misunderstood Friendship: Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, and Sino-North Korean Relations, 1949-1976: Revised Edition

Revised and Corrected Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia Today, the People’s Republic of China is North Korea’s only ally on the world stage, a tightly knit relationship that goes back decades. Both countries portray their partnership as one of “brotherly affection” based on shared political ideals—an alliance “as tight as lips to teeth”—even though relations … [Read More]

The Koreas: The Birth of Two Nations Divided

From the publisher’s website: What history, pop culture, and diaspora can teach us about North and South Korea today. Korea is one of the last divided countries in the world. Twins born of the Cold War, one is vilified as an isolated, impoverished, time-warped state with an abysmal human rights record and a reclusive leader … [Read More]

Democratization and Democracy in South Korea, 1960–Present

This book analyses democratization and democracy in South Korea since 1960. The book starts with an analysis of the distinctive characteristics of bureaucratic authoritarianism and how democratic transition had been possible after inconclusive and protracted “tug of war” between authoritarian regime and democratic opposition. It then goes on to explore what the opportunities and constraints … [Read More]