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Korea Unmasked

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  190 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Korea Unmasked is an illustrated book that presents a hilarious and often unflattering look at Korean society and its people. It brings the reader a fascinating exploration of the Korean mindset and weaves together history, sociology and cultural anthropology. The book introduces an insight in subjects like; Korean history, traditions, culture, food, life, ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Gimm Young International
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(showing 1-30 of 460)
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Nov 17, 2014 John rated it liked it
KOREA UNMASKED is a 200+ page comic book that provides a fun, non-academic look at Korean culture and society. The illustrations are admittedly pretty childish and goofy, but they force readers to slow down and absorb the material at a more effective pace, resulting in an increased retention of the information being conveyed.
The quality of the information itself varies from topic to topic. Some sections of the book are extremely helpful, whereas other parts might be seen as controversial. For ex
Dec 31, 2013 Johnny rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Calling Korea Unmasked a graphic novel may be something of a misnomer. It is presented in a graphic format resembling a lengthy comic strip, but it is not (as most graphic novels would be) fiction. Rather, it is more like a graphic essay about culture. I learned a lot from this book (recommended by a Korean friend) and I spend a lot of time with Koreans.

The first major point that stood out to me was the author's comparison of three Asian cultures around one word respectively. He presents the Chi
Jul 26, 2012 Jakub rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best account I’ve read of what South Korea is really about. This is largely because it is the first account that I’ve read that avoids the tired clichés and stock phrases that are inculcated into most Koreans from birth. Even famous Korean professors who have taught at Harvard (Song, Byung Nak) still repeat tired tropes like “Korean is special because it has four distinct seasons, and this has forced its people to be more adaptable than other nations,” but this book manages to avoid ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Vivienne rated it really liked it
It's a great book if you're interested in more, than K-pop.
Apr 08, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
This book would give you sufficient knowledge about Korea, its society and its culture. It comes with funny comics for easy and better understanding why the people behave like that.

For people who have visited Korea before, they would find themselves agreeing to this book a couple of times. And for those who yet to visit the country, this would give them insight about it (plus it would come in handy in case you need more knowledge about North-South stuff! ;D).
Aug 26, 2015 Barry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels, korea
Mr. Rhie does an excellent job of explaining the why behind aspects of Korean culture that stand out to a foreigner. Using history and culture as guides, he lays out the basics of Korean culture and how those aspects came to be formed. One remarkable feature of this book is how he compares Korea with other nations and cultures around the world, and this gives the book both depth and validity as well as helping his explanations make more sense. Originally written in Korean, the translators have d ...more
Jorge Matheos
Sep 07, 2012 Jorge Matheos rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics, korea
Rhi Won Bok's philosophy: If the facts don't add up to support your hypothesis, simply make them up or lie. His Mainland-Peninsula-Island hypothesis is unique, but he goes at great lengths to find other peninsular cultures that are as insular as Korea has historically been. He even goes so far as to compare the Korean "pure-blood" myth that has predominated only since the late 19th and early 20th Century to 20th Century Balkan nationalism.

There is of course little basis for blood-nationalism hy
For what it is, it's wonderful. One must take into consideration that this is a non-fiction comic book and as such, it takes some liberties for the sake of brevity. We are talking about summing up a whole culture into less than 250 pages. Comments such as "this book is too general" or "it takes too many liberties" failed to see what this book is intended to be - a general overall for people with virtually no background knowledge of Korea. To that end, this book excels.

I also commend this book in
Feb 15, 2010 Mag rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mag by: Kuba
This graphic, non-fiction comic book with dynamic and funny illustrations is a fascinating look at different aspects of Korean culture and lifestyle. The author clarifies Korean history and shows how the country’s peninsular shape and mighty neighbours helped to shape its national identity. He tackles Korean language and customs and points out how they are different from those of the neighbouring countries of China and Japan. Politics and the nation's struggle to become a democracy are also disc ...more
This graphic novel attempts to explain the Korean mindset, it's history and culture in simple clear terms. No big deal, you can easily cover than in 200+ pages...

Why I started it: Graphic novel, looked easy to read and I'm always interested in learning more about Korea and how Koreans see themselves..

Why I finished it: Written by a Korean, this book not only explains how they see themselves but it opens up and reveals some standard Korean prejudices and culturan historical intepretations. We all
Jan 02, 2010 Jules rated it it was amazing
This is a very easy read. The book is written in a comic style form and is so entertaining. As a second generation immigrant, it really sheds light on why our parents behave they do. I have a much better understanding of my native country.

The author is really clever in addressing the religious, cultural, social, and political aspects of Korea as a country and the its people in a very non-boring, entertaining style. There were many "ah-ha!" and "that's so true!" moments.

This is a must read if you
Nov 02, 2012 Dick rated it did not like it
It is no more then a collection of opinions and stereo typing views of a single person. There are no facts in this book. Comparisons made between countries don't make sense. You can't compare China with France. There are no similarities between people in the UK and Korea as described in the book. It seems that the author simply didn't bother to dig into european history. This is not a good book because it creates false images of countries in europe and their history. I am not even going to bothe ...more
So many stereotypes. Some of that was for humor purposes, but some was just poor wording. So many things are explained as absolutes. Koreans...... Rather than saying some Koreans.
Dec 26, 2014 Mayarahmed rated it really liked it
Shelves: mayar
Is nice
Jan 02, 2010 Meri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels, korea
This is a fantastic, easily readable digest of Korean culture and mindset. Unlike other books I've read about understanding Korea, this one puts Koreans in context, giving a short overview of the historical and geographical roots of the Korean mindset. A few of the statements it makes are a bit sweeping--I don't think that all peninsular people are stubborn--but it's pretty spot on about a lot of Korean traits that I have noticed. A great overview for anyone trying to understand Korea a little b ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Kat rated it really liked it
Having lived in Korea for almost a year, I wish I'd read this book sooner. This book explains so much of the Korean mindset and how the society functions here. The cartoons do a good job of explaining complex ideas about why the Koreans are so extreme, from church to politics. It fills in some of the history and political situations that have led South Korea to its current situation. It's a little out of date now, but still a very worthwhile read for anyone interested in Korea.
Renato Maschetto de Sa
Jun 22, 2014 Renato Maschetto de Sa rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia, korea, non-fiction
We read this book as soon as we arrived in Korea for our long stay (7 years). It helped A LOT, as it highlighted 1)the main differences between the major countries in East Asia (Korea, Japan, China) and 2)how the Korean culture "works" - for a non-Korean, of course - and how to navigate through it as a non-Korean. I'd go as far to say that this is a mandatory book for anyone interested to learn about and to understand Korea and Koreans.
May 02, 2010 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: illistrated
Of the books that I've read about Korea, this one is the easiest and most infomative about what the modern outlook and feel of the nation. A super quick read, I would say it's a must read to anyone who is traveling to this part of the world or recomend it to anyone who is intersted in an indepth, yet humorous, look at Korea.
Sep 28, 2009 Jessie rated it really liked it
I don't know whether this is more a good souvenir from Korea or just a good comic book, but it's very enjoyable. Outside of it's own context this book may seem bizarre and even a bit
racist at times. Still, there is not much popular reading that deals with Korean history in such a blunt way.
Apr 26, 2012 SeungRyeol rated it it was ok
This book is steadyseller in south korea. Many reads this book.

But, now, isn't. Because there is many books for this topic in south korea.

However, this book is useful in there is not trans edition for the topic. Because this book is funny and easy.
Oct 14, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
Awesome book that explains the history, culture, psyche, and life of Koreans... creatively told through an interesting and unique way. i would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about Korea and its neighboring Asian countries.
Dec 15, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it
If anyone is ever going to visit or live in South Korea this is a must read comic book. Putting the culture in perspective with Korea's history was very informative. You can learn a lot about Korean culture from this very quick read.
Sep 10, 2009 Indah rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
This is funny. I think some part of it is a bit out of date compared to today's S. Korea... But still, it gives a lot of information about Korean history, culture, and, it tells us in funny ways! I really like it! ^^
Oct 21, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating look at Korean culture and customs and why, perhaps, they developed to be what they are today. This has been helpful for me to understand the country I'm calling home these days. I would recommend this to anyone.
Oct 02, 2008 Jose rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Recommended to Jose by: Mr. Shin (Tortuga)
A good book written by a Korean for Koreans translated into English. Gives a realistic overview of S. Korean society and their beliefs in unification, education, economy,and a very brief but sufficient cultural background
Jul 11, 2011 Ami rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I certainly learned a lot more about Korea (both of them). I enjoyed the history and sociology that Professor Rhie includes as the reasons behind what he presents as the Korea temperament.
Nov 15, 2007 Joseph rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Korean racists
A piece of pop-sociology crap by Korea's premier clueless pontificating cartoonist. Check out Rhie Won Bok's racist and antisemitic take on America at
Jul 16, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it
A pretty cleverly written graphic non-fiction that compares Korea to Japan and China as well as explaining some of the Korea's national idiosyncrasies, pastimes, and obsessions.
Feb 10, 2007 Loraine rated it really liked it
As hard as Korean culture is to understand (fan death? red pens = death?), this book does an excellent job for helping outsiders understand why Koreans tick the way they do.
Apr 19, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
Extremely readable run-down of East Asian cultures by Korean cartoonist. No doubt people will dispute stuff, but it's nice to hear an honest perspective.
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