In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea from its southern tip to the North Korean border in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.
Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation...more
I have to say I was pretty offended at t ...more
Even granting how long ago the book was written, it's striking how little Winchester comments on the desperate plight of women. He is, in fact, rather cavalier about the widespread prostitution he chro ...more
A few caveats, the text was written in 1988 when South Korean's government was far more authoritarian. Thus, the contrast with the North wasn't near as striking as today. Winchester is a bit harsh at times on American imperialism (coming from a Brit, this is at times particularly rich) and seems to only encounter the most vulgar, most ignorant Americans he can find.
I also found Winch ...more
Probably the most fantastic aspect of the book comes from the era it was written and how foreign a place Korea seems just 30 years ago. For context: Winchester walks from the island of Jeju to Panmunjeom on the "border" with North Korea. He attempts to follow the path at out by Dutch sailors who crashed on Jeju in the seventeenth century, becoming the first westerners ...more
The trick of detachment while remaining involved in the story is something that eluded the author at this point, but the stories in this book are of a more personal nature than the historical narratives in later volumes. Despite the fact that he doesn't fla ...more
The account of this travelogue is a fascinating read for the image it paints of Korea then. It was a very, very different time, somehow as removed from present day's Korea as th ...more
or at least, 350 Goodreaders have chosen to rate his book.
so... if we ignore this deliberately facetious opening, we might say that Simon Winchester is just about as well known as Alan Booth, another Englishman who refused proferred car-rides and buses to walk the length of a country. Booth traveled 4000 kilometers from north Hokkaido to ...more
Winchester uses intriguing and creative prose; I most enjoyed the portraits of people and landsc ...more
The miracles of t ...more
This book is a story of the author's foot journey from southern South Korea to the 38th parallel. Winchester has a little more humor in this book (styled quite dryly like Bill Bryson) and it is very educational, enlightening, and humorous.
One small complaint, which applies to many books of this sort, is the inclusion of an eccentric, Western expat (in this case the character Carl Ferris Miller). While the author my find this person eminently interesting, I think meeting him only distracts from what shoul ...more
The book did make me want to visit Korea. I worked for a Korean company here stateside for a short time, and I wish I had read the book before working there as it would have given me a bit more insight in how to deal with the boss. As a ...more
Even though the book was first published in 1984, it has lost l ...more