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Selected publications

Book review: A (minjung) History of Korea

Korea Historical Research Association (tr Joshua van Lieu) A History of Korea Saffron Books, 2005 It’s the 1980s. In Britain, leftist ideologues such as Red Robbo, Arthur Scargill and Derek Hatton had for years been railing against the government and the establishment using turgid language pilloried in satirical magazines, TV programmes and film1. Anyone who […]

Carter Ekert and others: Korea Old and New

Carter J Eckert / Ki-baik Lee / Young Ick Lew / Michael Robinson / Edward W Wagner (Ilchokak Publishers, for Korea Institute, Harvard University, 1990) An ambitious book which aims in the space of 400 pages to encapsulate Korea’s history from Palaeolithic times up until 1990. In a book of this nature it is inevitable […]

Sea-Jin Chang: Financial Crisis and Transformation of Korean Business Groups

The Rise and Fall of Chaebols (Cambridge, 2003) A welcome and very detailed examination of the history and structure of the Korean business conglomerates. The strengths of this book are manifold. First and foremost is the wealth of evidence sourced from the Korea Information Service which provides some raw data for some hard conclusions. And […]

Susie Younger: Never ending flower

Susie Younger: Never ending flower Collins Harvill, 1967 To describe this book as a memoir of a Catholic missionary in South Korea in the early 1960s, while factually correct, undersells it. Yes, the author is a person of deep Christian faith, but her work in Korea is more that of a social worker than evangelist. […]

Chae-jin Lee: A Troubled Peace

Chae-jin Lee: A Troubled Peace — US Policy and the Two Koreas Johns Hopkins Univ Press, 2006 A very thorough review of the history of the relations between the US and (the two) Korea(s) over the past hundred or so years. To me, there’s rather too many trees and not enough wood, but I guess […]

Mark Clifford: Troubled Tiger

(M.E. Sharpe / Routledge 1998) Chronicles the modern history of Korea from the 1960s to the mid-90s, focusing on the drive for economic growth and the control exerted by the Blue House over the direction of the economy. Clifford gives us a politically balanced view, emphasising the successes of Park Chung-hee, but not shrinking from […]

Book Review: Admiral Yi Sun-sin

Admiral Yi Sun-sin: A brief overview of his life and achievements Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project, 2006 A quick and easy read setting out the achievements of Admiral Yi in the Imjin war against Japan. As well as telling Yi’s story (sometimes using Yi’s own war diary and memorials to the throne), the book […]

Andrew Holloway: A Year in Pyongyang

(Aidan FC’s website, 1988) Amid the pile of available reading material on the DPRK, is there room for an unpublished memoir, getting on for 20 years old, recording the experiences of a lowly “raiser” — someone who converts Konglish into English — in late 1980s Pyongyang? Definitely yes. Though obviously not state of the art, […]

War & Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War.

David McCann & Barry Strauss (eds) (ME Sharpe, 2001) Crazy title, seemingly of limited readership: ancient historians also interested in modern East Asian history (or vice versa). But it’s a fascinating collection of articles. “How like Alcibiades was General MacArthur?” asks one article… Read a grown-up review of this book over at the Korean Studies […]