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CHALLENGES > KOREA (SOUTH KOREA AND NORTH KOREA) - "Land of the Morning Calm - The Two Koreas" - READ KOREAS CHALLENGE

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 10:20AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This is a thread to begin discussing all things Korean. This includes the country of Korea historically as well as both North Korea and South Korea, its rulers, government, etc. and of course its history.

Please feel free to add books: either non fiction or historical fiction that deal with these topical areas. In the future if this thread expands and there is a need for its own folder I will develop a folder for this country and its history.

If you would like to add any novels that are set in Korea (North or South), you may but only if you clearly point out that these are works of fiction. This group is primarily a non fiction and historical fiction group.



Additionally this is a thread which can be used as a general discussion about "Land of the Morning Calm - The Two Koreas" challenge.

We will focus on Korea (both South and North Korea), the various countries and locations within the two Koreas, their people, their places, their events, their conflicts and their cultural icons.

Link to the I Like to Learn Quiz on Asia - lots of fun and learn the locations of all of the countries in this area:

http://www.ilike2learn.com/ilike2lear...


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Here is a world wide view:



Korea (/kəˈriːə/) is a historical country in East Asia; since 1945, it has been divided into two distinct sovereign states: North Korea (officially the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea") and South Korea (officially the "Republic of Korea"). Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. It is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Korea emerged as a singular political entity in 676 AD, after centuries of conflict among the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which were unified as Unified Silla to the south and Balhae to the north. Unified Silla divided into three separate states during the Later Three Kingdoms period. Goryeo, which had succeeded Goguryeo, defeated the two other states and united the Korean Peninsula. Around the same time, Balhae collapsed and its last crown prince fled south to Goryeo. Goryeo (also spelled as Koryŏ), whose name developed into the modern exonym "Korea", was a highly cultured state that created the world's first metal movable type in 1234.[4][5][6][7][8][9] However, multiple invasions by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty during the 13th century greatly weakened the nation, which eventually agreed to become a vassal state after decades of fighting. Following the Yuan Dynasty's collapse, severe political strife followed, and Goryeo eventually fell to a coup led by General Yi Seong-gye, who established Joseon in 1392.

The first 200 years of Joseon were marked by relative peace. During this period, the Korean alphabet was created by Sejong the Great in the 15th century and there was increasing influence of Confucianism. During the later part of the dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname of the "Hermit Kingdom". By the late 19th century, the country became the object of imperial design by the Empire of Japan. After the First Sino-Japanese War, despite the Korean Empire's effort to modernize, it was annexed by Japan in 1910 and ruled by Imperial Japan until the end of World War II in August 1945.

In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea in the aftermath of World War II, leaving Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel. The North was under Soviet occupation and the South under U.S. occupation. These circumstances soon became the basis for the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their incapability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The Communist-inspired government in the North received backing from the Soviet Union in opposition to the pro-Western government in the South, leading to Korea's division into two political entities: North Korea (formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), and South Korea (formally the Republic of Korea). Tensions between the two resulted in the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. With involvement by foreign troops, the war ended in a stalemate in 1953, but without a formalized peace treaty. This status contributes to the high tensions that continue to divide the peninsula.

To date, each country contends it is the sole legitimate government of all of Korea; they each refuse to recognize the other as legitimate.

Remainder of Article:

Korea emerged as a singular political entity in 676 AD, after centuries of conflict among the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which were unified as Unified Silla to the south and Balhae to the north. Unified Silla divided into three separate states during the Later Three Kingdoms period. Goryeo, which had succeeded Goguryeo, defeated the two other states and united the Korean Peninsula. Around the same time, Balhae collapsed and its last crown prince fled south to Goryeo. Goryeo (also spelled as Koryŏ), whose name developed into the modern exonym "Korea", was a highly cultured state that created the world's first metal movable type in 1234.[4][5][6][7][8][9] However, multiple invasions by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty during the 13th century greatly weakened the nation, which eventually agreed to become a vassal state after decades of fighting. Following the Yuan Dynasty's collapse, severe political strife followed, and Goryeo eventually fell to a coup led by General Yi Seong-gye, who established Joseon in 1392.

The first 200 years of Joseon were marked by relative peace. During this period, the Korean alphabet was created by Sejong the Great in the 15th century and there was increasing influence of Confucianism. During the later part of the dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname of the "Hermit Kingdom". By the late 19th century, the country became the object of imperial design by the Empire of Japan. After the First Sino-Japanese War, despite the Korean Empire's effort to modernize, it was annexed by Japan in 1910 and ruled by Imperial Japan until the end of World War II in August 1945.

In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea in the aftermath of World War II, leaving Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel. The North was under Soviet occupation and the South under U.S. occupation. These circumstances soon became the basis for the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their incapability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The Communist-inspired government in the North received backing from the Soviet Union in opposition to the pro-Western government in the South, leading to Korea's division into two political entities: North Korea (formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), and South Korea (formally the Republic of Korea). Tensions between the two resulted in the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. With involvement by foreign troops, the war ended in a stalemate in 1953, but without a formalized peace treaty. This status contributes to the high tensions that continue to divide the peninsula.

To date, each country contends it is the sole legitimate government of all of Korea; they each refuse to recognize the other as legitimate.

Remainder of article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea

Source: Wikipedia


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 11:46AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
PEOPLE OR ICONIC FIGURES/DEITIES, ALSO GOVERNMENT LEADERS, PRESIDENTS, CHAIRMEN THAT YOU CAN RESEARCH AND READ ABOUT:

Some of these people were not benefactors to Korea

General Yi Seong-gye
Sejong the Great
Confucius
Buddha
King Taejo
Dangun
Dae Jo-yeung
King Jangsu
Wang Geon
King Gongmin
General Choe Yeong
Toyotomi Hideyoshi - Japanese Invader
King Gojong
An Jung - geun
Chief Cabinet Secretary - Yonei Kono - who acknowledged "comfort women
Kim II - sung
Kim Jong-II
Kim Jong-un - Current Chairman
Choe Yun-ui
Park Chung - hee
Marco Polo
Rhee Syngman
Yi Dong-Hwi
Sun Byong-hi
Park Eun-sik
Yi Sang-ryong
Yang Gi-tak
Yi Dong-nyeong
Ahn Changho
Hong Jin
Kim Koo
Song Beyond-jo
Yun Bo-seon
Choi Kyu-hah
Chun Doo-huan
Roh Tae-woo
Kim Young-sam
Kim Dae-jung
Kim Jong-il
Roh Moo Hyun
Lee Myung-bak
Park Geun-hye
Moon Jae-in
Any of the Korean Ancient Kings - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...
Kim Tu-Bong
Choe Yong-gon
Yang Hyong-sop
Kim Yong-nam


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 11:40AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
PLACES, THINGS, EVENTS, MOVEMENTS, IDEOLOGIES, RELIGIONS, TREATIES, WARS, INVASIONS, PERIOD, DYNASTIES, ETC. THAT YOU CAN RESEARCH AND READ ABOUT

North Korea
South Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
United Silla
Balbae
Goryeo
Goguryeo
Mongol Yuan Dynasty Invaders
Joseon
Confucianism
Hermit Kingdome
Sino-Japanese War
History of Korea
Korean War
The Travels of Marco Polo
Hanja
Samdan (Ma, Jin, Byeon)
Gojoseon
Han Dynasty and Korea
Proto-Three Kingdoms Period
North-South States Period
Buddhism
Mount Juihua
Goryeo Dynasty
Khitan Empire
Joseon Dynasty
Gyeonbokgung Palace
Korean Empire
Japan-Korea Annexation
March 1st Movement of 1919
Korean Liberation Movement
Juche Ideology
Korean Demilitarization Zone
Taoism
Korean Shamanism
Korean Cuisine
Korean Music
Mugujeonggwang Great Dharani Sutra
Sports in Korea - Taekwondo, Hapkido, Ssireum
Gwangjo Uprising and Massacre of 1980
South Korea's rapid urbanization and modernization
North Korea's failed economy and nuclear focus
Koreans Living Abroad
The Revolutionary Party of Korea
Denuclearization of North Korea
Coup d'état of December Twelfth inf 1979
International Monetary Fund bailout of South Korea following the financial crisis of 1997.
Sunshine Policy of engagement towards North Korea
ROKS Cheonan Sinking and Bombardment of Yeonpyeong
Korean Anti-US beef import protests in 2008
MB Doctrine


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 11:51AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
AUTHORS/WRITERS OF KOREA

Park Wan-suh
Ko Un
Hwang Sok-yung
O Chonghui (Oh Jung-hee)
Ch'oe Yun
Shin Kyung-sook
Kim Young-ha
Kim In-suk
Krys Lee
Yun Ko-eun

Ten Gripping Books by North Korean Writers
https://theculturetrip.com/asia/north...


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Links to idea about authors and books to read:

Ten Important Modern and Contemporary Writers from South Korea
https://theculturetrip.com/asia/south...


gathering feather organiceden | 1122 comments Thanks for the links Bentley.


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
You are welcome - we are getting ready to set up the next challenge soon.


message 9: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) | 1 comments I discovered the author James Church a while back. He is a former diplomatic officer who writes mysteries set in North Korea. They are very good.

The first one is A Corpse in the Koryo


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 08:47PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Very good Kirsten - thank you and thank you for pointing out that they are fiction.

Also I wanted to show you how to add our required standard citation format - it is very easy - bookcover, space, by, space, author's photo when available and this one wasn't so you leave it out, author's link and then because there is no photo - (no photo) at the end. Here it is:

A Corpse in the Koryo - Fiction

A Corpse in the Koryo (Inspector O, #1) by James Church by James Church (no photo)

Thank you so much for your add and you may want to edit your post. I will delete my helpful hint once you do. I appreciate very much your add.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
In the East Asia folder:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Calligrapher's Daughter
HISTORICAL FICTION

Setting: Korea - Kaesong (Korea, Democratic People's Republic of) Seoul (in South Korea( (Korea, Republic of)

Literary Awards: Borders Original Voices Award for Fiction (2009), Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee for Fiction (2010)

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim by Eugenia Kim Eugenia Kim

Synopsis:

A sweeping debut novel, inspired by the life of the author’s mother, about a young woman who dares to fight for a brighter future in occupied Korea

In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother—but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. When he seeks to marry Najin into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends her to serve in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end.

In the shadow of the dying monarchy, Najin begins a journey through increasing oppression that will forever change her world. As she desperately seeks to continue her education, will the unexpected love she finds along the way be enough to sustain her through the violence and subjugation her country continues to face? Spanning thirty years, The Calligrapher’s Daughter is a richly drawn novel in the tradition of Lisa See and Amy Tan about a country torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, a family ultimately united by love, and a woman who never gives up her search for freedom.


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Surrendered
HISTORICAL FICTION

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize Nominee for Fiction (2011),
Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2010)

The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee by Chang-rae Lee Chang-rae Lee

Synopsis:

A stunning story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch, The Surrendered is elegant, suspenseful, and unforgettable: a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy and salvation.

With his three critically acclaimed novels, Chang-rae Lee has established himself as one of the most talented writers of contemporary literary fiction. Now, with The Surrendered, Lee has created a book that amplifies everything we've seen in his previous works, and reads like nothing else. It is a brilliant, haunting, heartbreaking story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch.

June Han was only a girl when the Korean War left her orphaned; Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage where they vied for the attentions of Sylvie Tanner, the beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything. Thirty years later and on the other side of the world, June and Hector are reunited in a plot that will force them to come to terms with the mysterious secrets of their past, and the shocking acts of love and violence that bind them together.

As Lee unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another. Combining the complex themes of identity and belonging of Native Speaker and A Gesture Life with the broad range, energy, and pure storytelling gifts of Aloft, Chang-rae Lee has delivered his most ambitious, exciting, and unforgettable work yet. It is a mesmerizing novel, elegantly suspenseful and deeply affecting


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
When My Name Was Keoko
HISTORICAL FICTION

Literary Awards: Jane Addams Children's Book Award Nominee for Older Children (2003), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee (2005), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee (2004)

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park by Linda Sue Park Linda Sue Park

Synopsis:

Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul are proud of their Korean heritage. Yet they live their lives under Japanese occupation. All students must read and write in Japanese and no one can fly the Korean flag. Hardest of all is when the Japanese Emperor forces all Koreans to take Japanese names. Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. Korea is torn apart by their Japanese invaders during World War II. Everyone must help with war preparations, but it doesn’t mean they are willing to defend Japan. Tae-yul is about to risk his life to help his family, while Sun-hee stays home guarding life-and-death secrets.


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 25, 2018 06:21PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Nothing to Envy Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick by Barbara Demick Barbara Demick

Synopsis:

A National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle finalist, Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy is a remarkable view into North Korea, as seen through the lives of six ordinary citizens

Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Red Queen
NOVEL - TIME PERIOD - MID 1700S

On the 2006 list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die

The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble by Margaret Drabble Margaret Drabble

Synopsis:

Two hundred years after being plucked from obscurity to marry the Crown Prince of Korea, the Red Queen doesn’t want her extraordinary existence to be forgotten. Her long and privileged life behind the Korean palace walls was not all it seemed, and the Red Queen (or her ghost) is still desperate to retell her tale.

Dr. Barbara Halliwell, with her own complicated past, seems the perfect envoy – having read the memoirs of the Crown Princess on the plane to Seoul, Barbara has become utterly engrossed in her story. But why has the Red Queen selected Barbara to keep her story alive, and what else does she want from her? As she explores the inner sanctums and the royal courts, Barbara Halliwell begins to feel a strong affinity for everything related to the princess and her mysterious life. After a brief, intense, and ill-fated love affair, she returns to London. Is she ensnared by the events of the past week, of the past two hundred years, or will she pick up her life where she left it?

Set in eighteenth-century Korea and the present day, The Red Queen is a rich, playful, and atmospheric novel about love, about personal and public history, and what it means to be remembered. Beautifully told, ingeniously constructed, this novel reveals Margaret Drabble at her extraordinary best.


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Lark & Termite
HISTORICAL FICTION

Literary Awards:
National Bestseller
New York Times Notable Book
Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year

Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips by Jayne Anne Phillips Jayne Anne Phillips

Synopsis:

Lark and Termite is a rich, wonderfully alive novel about seventeen year old Lark and her brother, Termite, living in West Virginia in the 1950s. Their mother, Lola, is absent, while their aunt, Nonie, raises them as her own, and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, is caught up in the early days of the Korean War. Award-winning author Jayne Anne Phillips intertwines family secrets, dreams, and ghosts in a story about the love that unites us all.

A family linked by the Korean War - story jumps back and forth between the Korean War and the US.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Koreas's Place in the Sun: A Modern History

Literary Awards: Kiriyama Prize Nominee (1997)

Korea's Place in the Sun A Modern History by Bruce Cumings by Bruce Cumings (no photo)

Synopsis:

Korea has endured a "fractured, shattered twentieth century," and this updated edition brings Bruce Cumings's leading history of the modern era into the present. The small country, overshadowed in the imperial era, crammed against great powers during the Cold War, and divided and decimated by the Korean War, has recently seen the first real hints of reunification. But positive movements forward are tempered by frustrating steps backward. In the late 1990s South Korea survived its most severe economic crisis since the Korean War, forcing a successful restructuring of its political economy. Suffering through floods, droughts, and a famine that cost the lives of millions of people, North Korea has been labeled part of an "axis of evil" by the George W. Bush administration and has renewed its nuclear threats. On both sides Korea seems poised to continue its fractured existence on into the new century, with potential ramifications for the rest of the world


message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Koreas's Place in the Sun: A Modern History

Literary Awards: Kiriyama Prize Nominee (1997)

Korea's Place in the Sun A Modern History by Bruce Cumings by Bruce Cumings (no photo)

Synopsis:

Korea has endured a "fractured, shattered twentieth century," and this updated edition brings Bruce Cumings's leading history of the modern era into the present. The small country, overshadowed in the imperial era, crammed against great powers during the Cold War, and divided and decimated by the Korean War, has recently seen the first real hints of reunification. But positive movements forward are tempered by frustrating steps backward. In the late 1990s South Korea survived its most severe economic crisis since the Korean War, forcing a successful restructuring of its political economy. Suffering through floods, droughts, and a famine that cost the lives of millions of people, North Korea has been labeled part of an "axis of evil" by the George W. Bush administration and has renewed its nuclear threats. On both sides Korea seems poised to continue its fractured existence on into the new century, with potential ramifications for the rest of the world


message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This is our new challenge - please add the books that you are reading or planning to read. And let us know what you thought of them. Message 19 shows the moderator's format but if you do not want to do that - just make sure to add the citation - bookcover, by, author's photo and author's link - if (no photo) add that at the end instead of the blank icon. And include your review and of course if you liked the book or not and why.


message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
North Korean leader: We no longer need nuclear tests, state-run media reports
By Sophie Jeong and Will Ripley, CNN
Updated 8:58 PM ET, Fri April 20, 2018

Remainder of article:
https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/20/asia/n...

Source: CNN


message 22: by Leslie (last edited Apr 30, 2018 10:07AM) (new)

Leslie | 49 comments I always enjoy reading at least something from the Catholic perspective and found this website. It may be of interest to some of you, so thought I'd share for inspiration.

https://davidalton.net/tag/korean-mar...

as well as this site.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/...

https://www.catholicculture.org/cultu...

http://www.ktlit.com/spokane-shadle-l... (very interesting power point presentation on Korean literature and it's history)

Not in our Goodreads system yet, The Story of Yangban by Cheol-moon, Jang

For short stories, I found these. Look for links to the free pdf.
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/...
http://www.ktlit.com/mothers-stake-by... (free pdf link inside)


message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you Leslie


message 24: by Nathan (new)

Nathan | 5 comments I just joined this group, and I think that this is a great idea. I've already spent some time researching different fiction and nonfiction books to try and find interesting books to read.


message 25: by Harmke (new)

Harmke My first book in this challenge was:
Gestolen leven by Adam Johnson by Adam Johnson Adam Johnson
(Title in English: The Orphan Master's Son)

It is some sort of political thriller on life in North Korea, written from the perspective of North Koreans. Don't know yet what to think of it, whether this book is realistic or not. Definitely want to read some non-fiction on life in North Korea after this book, that's for sure.


message 26: by Anthony (last edited Jun 25, 2018 09:41PM) (new)

Anthony | 14 comments I only signed up to read one book for this challenge, but having read this one, I may just change my mind and read more. I’m somewhat familiar with South Korea, having visited there on more than one occasion, but, except for snippets here and there, didn’t know much about life in the North. I found this book in a Kindle search and decided it was worth a read. It was originally published in Japan in 2000, following the author's escape from North Korea in 1996. It was first puiblished in English by AmazonCrossing in 2017.

The book is

A River in Darkness One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa by Masaji Ishikawa (no photo)

Review: 4/5 stars.

On reading this book, I realize how lucky I am to lead the life that I do, no matter what petty ups an downs it may bring. Mr. Ishikawa endured what could be described as no less than hell on earth during his 36 years in North Korea, made worse by his status as a Japanese "returnee", which earned him a position in the lowest social caste. What makes this story even more tragic is that his life in Japan following his escape didn’t exactly work out as he would have hoped either. 

The book is a short read at 162 pages, but it doesn't need to be longer, the sense of suffering concisely conveyed in simple prose. Even if you have read other books on North Korea (as I had not) I would recommend reading this highly moving, personal and tragic story. 


message 27: by Harmke (new)

Harmke Anthony wrote: "I only signed up to read one book for this challenge, but having read this one, I may just change my mind and read more. I’m somewhat familiar with South Korea, having visited there on more than on..."

This might just be the type of book I want to read next in this challenge. Thanks for sharing Anthony!


message 28: by AnnaG (last edited Jul 02, 2018 12:45PM) (new)

AnnaG | 6 comments I have quite a number of South Korean friends and have been meaning to read more about the Koreas, especially with the political climate. I'm sure I will pick up some ideas from other contributors here! The books I already had on my TBR are:

1) The Girl with Seven Names A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee by Hyeonseo Lee Hyeonseo Lee
A story of escape from North Korea, I might switch this for A River in Darkness given the reviews above, but have also heard good things about this book

2) The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson by Jonas Jonasson Jonas Jonasson
The first 100 year old man story (The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared) covered 20th century politics with Allan meeting Mao, Stalin, Kim Il Sun, Kim Jong Il, Nixon and Truman. This book is a sequel and according to the blurb sees Allan bound for Pyongyang with contraband enriched uranium.

3) Pacific Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester by Simon Winchester Simon Winchester
Simon Winchester's ocean books are whistle-stop tours around various topics (like non fiction short stories). I'm part-way through this one and have really enjoyed the first chapters in here on the atomic bomb testing and the consumer electronics revolution. Whilst the book doesn't cover any topic about Korea in depth, it helps contextualise Korea within the history of the Pacific landscape e.g. consumer electronics come first to Japan and now have migrated across to South Korea and are migrating on to China. There is a chapter on US/North Korean relations and context on Korea in WWII and the Korean War.

Since, I'm enjoying Simon Winchester's style and noticed that he has a more in-depth book about Korea:
Korea A Walk Through the Land of Miracles by Simon Winchester by Simon Winchester Simon Winchester
I might order a copy once I have finished Pacific.

Last year I read
The Great Soul of Siberia In Search of the Elusive Siberian Tiger by Sooyong Park by Sooyong Park (no photo)
Sooyong is a South Korean writing about his work with tigers in China near the border with North Korea. I think I saw that he has a second book in the works, so hope that may come out in time and be about Korea's relationship with nature.


message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Very good all


message 30: by Harmke (new)

Harmke Pachinko by Min Jin Lee by Min Jin Lee Min Jin Lee

My second book in this challenge. Beautifully written multigenerational story of a Korean immigrant family in Japan and their daily life struggle. Really loved this one.


message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you Harmke


message 32: by Harmke (new)

Harmke Third book: The Korean War

The Korean War by Max Hastings by Max Hastings Max Hastings

Very interesting book on the Korean War, the forgotten war. Even for a military nitwit like me it is a very readable book.

Synopsis:
It was the first war we could not win. At no other time since World War II have two superpowers met in battle. Now Max Hastings, preeminent military historian, takes us back to the bloody, bitter, struggle to restore South Korean independence after the Communist invasion of June 1950. Using personal accounts from interviews with more than 200 vets - including the Chinese - Hasting follows real officers and soldiers through the battles. He brilliantly captures the Cold War crisis at home - the strategies and politics of Truman, Acheson, Marshall, MacArthur, Ridgeway, and Bradley - and shows what we should have learned in the war that was the prelude to Vietnam.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
A good one Harmke. Glad you are still working on your challenge - I am too. Happy Reading in 2019


message 34: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaelbl) | 407 comments That is my next read for the challenge. just took it off the shelf yesterday.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Good choice Michael - I like Max Hastings in general.

Max Hastings Max Hastings


message 36: by Harmke (new)

Harmke Glad to see you back Bentley, and happy reading in 2019 to you too!

@Michael: have a good read, hope you find it as interesting as I did.


message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you Harmke and the same to you.


message 38: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaelbl) | 407 comments Thank you Harmke!


message 39: by Harmke (new)

Harmke Fourth book: White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht.
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht by Mary Lynn Bracht Mary Lynn Bracht

Intense, cruel story on the sad fate of the 'comfort women' in Korea (and elsewhere in Japanese ruled Asian world) during World War 2. It is written with a remarkable sense of respect to these girls, well done!


message 40: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 2105 comments Mod
Thank you Harmke, you are making wonderful progress in this challenge.


message 41: by Joseph (new)

Joseph (jsaltal) I set up my challenge shelf for 2020.


message 42: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 2105 comments Mod
That is great, Joseph. We are happy that you have joined in the "Koreas Challenge."

Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - Civil Rights and Supreme Court


message 43: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Joseph how are you doing on the challenge. Feel free to post the books that you are beginning or are reading for the challenge and what you think of those books.

Thank you Lorna for your helpful note.


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