The Impossible Country

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
South Korea's amazing rise from the ashes: the inside story of an economic, political, and cultural phenomenon

Long overshadowed by Japan and China, South Korea is a small country that happens to be one of the great national success stories of the postwar period. From a failed state with no democratic tradition, ruined and partitioned by war, and sapped by a half-century of colonial rule, South Korea transformed itself in just fifty years into an economic powerhouse and a democracy that serves as a model for other countries. With no natural resources and a tradition of authoritarian rule, Korea managed to accomplish a second Asian miracle.

Daniel Tudor is a journalist who has lived in and written about Korea for almost a decade. In Korea: The Impossible Country , Tudor examines Korea's cultural foundations; the Korean character; the public sphere in politics, business, and the workplace as well as the family, dating, and marriage. In doing so, he touches on topics as diverse as shamanism, clan-ism, the dilemma posed by North Korea, the myths about doing business in Korea, the Koreans' renowned hard-partying ethos, and why the infatuation with learning English is now causing massive social problems.

South Korea has undergone two miracles at once: economic development and complete democratization. The question now is, will it become as some see Japan, a prosperous yet aging society, devoid of energy and momentum? Or will the dynamism of Korean society and its willingness to change--as well as the opportunity it has now to welcome outsiders into its fold--enable it to experience a third miracle that will propel it into the ranks of the world's leading nations regarding human culture, democracy, and wealth?

More than just one journalist's account, Korea: The Impossible Country also draws on interviews with many of the people who made South Korea what it is today. These include:
Choi Min-sik, the star of "Old Boy." Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul. Soyeon Yi, Korea's first astronaut Hong Myung-bo, legendary captain of Korea's 2002 FIFA World Cup team. Shin Joong-hyun, the 'Godfather of Korean Rock.' Ko Un, poet. Hong Seok-cheon, restaurateur, and the first Korean celebrity to 'come out.'
And many more, including a former advisor to President Park Chung-hee; a Shaman priestess ('mudang'); the boss of Korea's largest matchmaking agency; a 'room salon' hostess; an architect; as well as chefs, musicians, academics, entrepreneurs, homemakers, and chaebol conglomerate employees.
Publisher: Tokyo ; Rutland, Vt. : Tuttle Publishing, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780804842525
Branch Call Number: 951.9 T811k 2012
Characteristics: 320 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 08, 2017

As a book about a small but very important country today, it covers almost everything one could want to know about Korea except the North. The author evidently speaks Korean and understands the deeper nature of the culture. I could do without as much detail about contemporary South Korean, that is, music and entertainment, and more about the political environment, especially about North Korea, which is as we know today is a locked-up, dictatorial country, but may start a nuclear conflict affecting the world.
The author explains the rapid changes that have happened on the peninsula in the 20th century to present, the many positive and negative consequence as well, with more anticipated as the South becomes more Westernized and continues its quest for excellence.
That said, I doubt that there are many details about the history from legendary founding some 5,000 years ago up to 2010. If you are planning to visit South Korea, I would highly recommend that you read this book first.


Add Age Suitability
Nov 08, 2017

SeattleSaul thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at TCCL

To Top