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Korea Unmasked

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  46 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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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  265 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Dec 31, 2013 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
Nov 10, 2014 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
Ashley Jackson
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! I noticed that it was published in 2002. I would be interested into how technology that has developed in the years since have affected Korea as well. An updated version would be wonderful but I love the info presented in this book!
Luiz Gustavo
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-world
A little bit out-of-date, but still a fun way of learning about the Korean mindset, culture and history.
Apr 27, 2012 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 08, 2012 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).
Shayna Ross
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This presents a pretty hard look at Korea (both North and South) in regards to the country, politics, history, and social climate. It can come off as dry if you were looking for fun topics (along the lines of entertainment), but understanding how Korean people is essential to understanding how the country. If you intend to move or visit Korea, but are baffled by their temperament and way of life, this may be a good resource to gain an understanding of how the Koreans identify themselves.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most amazing history books I have ever read— as a graphic cartoon format. Have referred to it time and time again in teaching others about Korean hx. Coworker gave this book to me, and it’s one of those very rare, rare wonders!
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a great book if you're interested in more, than K-pop. ...more
Jorge Matheos
Sep 07, 2012 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
Jan 08, 2010 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
Aug 26, 2015 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
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 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
Jan 02, 2010 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
Nov 02, 2012 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
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
One expects illustrated books to be easy, breezy, fun, childish. This is not - this looks like a good primer on South Korean history, politics, economics and social order. There are more detailed reviews of the book here, please read them; my personal comment is that this is a good book for travelers interested in more serious aspects about a country. The author’s bias towards his South Korea is visible and fun; the book is sometimes visibly not academically correct and one-sided, but a fun info ...more
Oct 29, 2012 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. ...more
Feb 20, 2013 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. ...more
Apr 13, 2010 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. ...more
Oct 02, 2008 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
Oct 14, 2008 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.
Oct 19, 2008 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. ...more
Sep 10, 2009 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! ^^ ...more
Sep 28, 2009 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.
Jul 08, 2011 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. ...more
Apr 26, 2012 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.
Feb 10, 2007 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.
Nov 15, 2007 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 ...more
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