Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History

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9780393040111: Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History

Over the past 150 years Korea have moved in a steep trajectory from an isolated, traditional country to a modern society with a robust global economy and increasingly democratic politics. The author of this study contends that the survival of the political division between north and south shows that this path has been far from smooth. The book focuses on Korea's fractured 20th-century history, covering the loss of its independence in 1910, its colonization by Japan until 1945, national division, political turmoil, a devastating war, and the death and dislocation of millions. These events left Korea divided and in desperate poverty. This book provides an account of Korea's spectacular recovery and growth in the modern period.

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Review:

Bruce Cumings traces the growth of Korea from a string of competing walled city-states to its present dual nationhood. He examines the ways in which Korean culture has been influenced by Japan and China, and the ways in which it has subtly influenced its more powerful neighbors. Cumings also considers the recent changes in the South, where authoritarianism is giving way to democracy, and in the North, which Cumings depicts as a "socialist corporatist" state more like a neo-Confucian kingdom than a Stalinist regime. Korea's Place in the Sun does much to help Western readers understand the complexities of Korea's past and present.

About the Author:

Bruce Cumings is chairman of the history department at the University of Chicago and the author of Korea's Place in the Sun. He divides his time between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Chicago.

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