Best korean history books according to redditors

We found 223 Reddit comments discussing the best korean history books. We ranked the 74 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

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North Korean history books
South Korean history books

Top Reddit comments about Korean History:

u/bravado · 166 pointsr/nottheonion

Unfortunately during the last famine, “grass cakes” replaced non-existent rice, so compost is likely an extreme luxury in many parts of NK.

Edit: If you want to know waaaaay too much more, read this epic volume

u/thunderbird_53 · 44 pointsr/dataisbeautiful

One of my Great Uncles fought in WWII and in Korea. Hought in the Pacific Theater when he learned his brother was a POW so he enlisted. He actually fought in the Chosin Reservoir against the Chinese after MacArthur denied that there were Chinese opposition. The Last Stand of Fox Company is a fantastic book if you were ever looking for a good book on the Korean War. My Great Uncle fought with those guys in the B Company Marines out of Minnesota.

u/twentyfivebutts · 27 pointsr/MapPorn

they weren't necessarily lucky, at least in the short term. post war, the north was extremely prosperous, (due to the USSR's backing), whilst the south went through military dictatorships, food shortages, police states and constant political unrest. the south only began to economically eclipse the north in (I think) the 1980s. This is a bad source but it's the best I can find on short notice, (the section on the Korean Rivalry). This book gives a much better breakdown of the two countries' differing fortunes if anyone is interested. edit: grammar

u/[deleted] · 21 pointsr/worldnews

I'm almost finished reading Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, great book btw. It has numerous tales from defectors a few of whom worked as labourers in Siberia, and these jobs are highly prized among North Koreans. People would bribe a few years salary just to get sent to Siberia and work because they had the opportunity to make 10 times the average North Korean salary there as well as having ample food and decent living conditions. Although in the book some defectors mentioned that once things started getting much worse in North Korea the state started garnishing even more of their wages to the point where some people became unable to pay back the money they borrowed to bribe officials to get the job in the first place. If I remember correctly that was one defector's reason for escaping.

u/Northamplus9bitches · 19 pointsr/ChapoTrapHouse

Anyone who thinks the DPRK is actually communist should read The Cleanest Race.

Racial animus is actually the prime motivator behind Juche ideology. Kids are raised on propaganda telling them that the US invaded North Korea without provocation in order to force black and Jewish soldiers on Korean women. Their ideology propagates the idea that their race is the purest of all, so pure that they need the strong hand of Dear Leader to keep them away from the rest of the world. They're a fascist regime with the most superficial of communist window dressing.

u/metsuken · 19 pointsr/asianamerican

> They can hide things from their own people, not really from the rest of the world. Again, the rest of the world is fully aware of how terrible it is in that country.

That wasn't my point? My point was they deflect attention away from human rights abuses by playing the western media.

> This reply doesn't seem to make any sense. Could you elaborate?

Here's what you said:

> Portraying this as about the movie and not about Americans getting pushed around and being told what they can and cannot do by NORTH KOREA is dishonest.

Which suggests that you think a private company pulling a movie is the same as nation states affecting each other. Unless by American you mean Sony in which case Sony is not even an American company, it's Japanese.

> Please, read what I'm saying and respond to that. You're making points here that are irrelevant. Stuff I never disagreed with or commented on.

I did. Honestly, you didn't make much of a point beyond claiming this is about North Korea "censoring" Americans (it's not) and refusing to believe that the DPRK is a self-aware government that issues global statements as calculated propaganda pieces.

> That is a stretch, to put it mildly. The West engages in this kind of satire all the time.

Because that's exactly how North Korea wants the West to spin it.

> We are still fully aware of the reality. Do you really think Team America came out and people stopped knowing that North Korea was a shit hole? Did the Dictator movie with Sacha Baron Cohen make people think the Middle East was a great place to live?

I never claimed those things. My answer is pretty clear in the stuff you quoted. All the human rights abuses and police state business is swept into the subconscious because the first things that people associate North Korea with are stupid memes and movie villain statements, making them see the regime as a parody of inhumanity that is too ridiculous to be believed.

I'm not interested in trying to change your mind because. It's clear you haven't done any serious research about North Korea. If you really want to get into this, I can start quoting experts on North Korea. To quote Dr. Andrei Lankov, "North Korea is not a bomb." Despite what US officials and even what uninformed academics believe, it is not insane. They know exactly what the response from the West will be when they make these statements.

> Police brutality is something that has been going on for decades to Americans. It reached a boiling point. It always strikes closer to home when it's happening to you. Which easily explains why no one takes to the streets when foreigners are getting tortured or North Koreans are suffering.

Didn't take very much to invade Iraq either, if you want to use that argument. Nor did it take much to start committing US resources to assisting Syrian rebels.

In comparison, there's far less pressure placed on our leaders to deal with North Korea, despite the fact that NATO-friendly allies inhabit the region.

> I wish you would be more intellectually honest. The dishonesty you've just tried here is incredible.

Oh boy.

> Do you really think all 914 million results are about the movie? "the interview" is a pretty fucking common set of words. Guess what? From the 3rd page on, many of the results have nothing to do with the movie at all.

Okay, good point. Google results for The Interview North Korea still nets 163 million. That's nearly twice the number of the CIA torture reports.

> Any article about the issue at all is going to mention the title of the movie. That says nothing about whether the people care about the movie or about being told what they can and cannot watch by North Korea.

If reddit is any indication, this has been a constant talking point for the last few days while the torture report was a flash in the pan.

> Please, try again. I'm sure you're capable of doing better. You don't seem like a total idiot in your posts, but you do seem very agenda driven and dishonest.

Dealing with assholes is not my strong suit. Statements like this don't help.

I was already questioning whether I should have even responded to you in the first place because I recognized you from other threads about North Korea. Just in case you delete this comment:

> Very little sympathy.
> You. Can. Not. Change. North. Korea.
> Especially as one person. Unless you are Kim Jong Un.
> Going there does no one any good. You go there to satisfy your own personal feelings. When you get caught and ransomed like this it only enhances the North Korean position and reduces everyone elses'. Countries have to bend over backwards to retrieve you and give in the NK's blackmail. Meanwhile, North Korea gets to use you as whatever. Hold you up as a spy. Get food and aid to return your dumb self to your actual country.
> What good did you do any body with those acts?

This is about the most dismissive, armchair, straight up asshole things I've ever seen on this website and yet I'm sad to say I'm not shocked you got upvoted for it.

I have personal friends who were saved from concentration camps in the most hellish country on Earth because of people who infiltrated the country. The defectors of the Black Market Generation are raising global awareness and reason they're able to do this in the first place is because of people who entered the country to get them out. North Korea has had to adjust its internal propaganda because of foreigners infiltrating the country and smuggling media from the outside world. Now, experts project that the regime may not last beyond the next 25 years. All this is thanks to the work of the people you're mocking.

But I guess it's easier for you to sit there like a smug prick and tell me that the people who risked their lives to save my friends from a life of torture, starvation, and oppression went there to satisfy their "own personal feelings". I guess you know better than the people who have spent years studying North Korea and devising ways to dismantle the Kim regime, who agree that constant infiltration is the key to breaking down the DPRK.

I could say fuck you but it's Christmas Eve tomorrow. I'll be honest, I'm pretty pissed at what you wrote, but I sincerely hope this makes you examine yourself and consider that maybe what you said is probably the most dickish thing I've read in this sub.

u/FS959 · 17 pointsr/sweden

Jag vet att folk gillar nordkoreansk propaganda, men varför inte läsa något ur en nordkoreans perspektiv istället för samma trötta charterresa? Det bor över 20000 nordkoreaner i Sydkorea, och en majoritet av dem har flytt dit under det senaste decenniet.

Här är några bokrekommendationer:

  • Nothing to Envy: Fokuserar ganska mycket på svältkatastrofen på 90-talet men också många skildringar av vardagen i Nordkorea. Släpptes nyligen på svenska.

  • Escape from Camp 14: Biografi om den enda person som fötts i ett nordkoreanskt koncentrationsläger och lyckats fly landet. Över 200 000 personer tros sitta i dessa läger och Camp 14 är det absolut värsta, i klass med Auschwitz-Birkenau vad gäller grymhet. The Aquariums of Pyongyang handlar om ett annat läger.

  • Några bra böcker som inte är skrivna av/med "avhoppare" (dvs nordkoreanska flyktingar) är The Cleanest Race (om Nordkoreas interna propaganda; väldigt bra för den som undrar "hur de kan tro på det där"), North of the DMZ, och Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader (nästan encyclopedisk bok om nordkoreas historia).
u/SewHappyGeek · 16 pointsr/AskHistorians

Re: the supernatural aspects. It seems this was an evolutionary process. For example, in the early days it was normal to refer to Stalin in NK propaganda and put him on a similar pedestal as KI-S. but as time went on and the policies proved egregious, it became more pressing to present Kim as a sort of spiritual leader/demigod as well. All mentions of Stalin were quietly retired. At the same time, the pictures and stories about Kim start to become more and more godlike - he has supernatural ability to understand what a factory's problems are and solve them in 2 seconds. So things like the story of how he kicked Japanese ass near Mount Pikchu started evolving too, because that further demonstrates how godlike he is and how his destiny was mapped. Then, when KJ-I needed to be groomed for the leadership position, stories about his 'birth at Mount Pikchu' started circulating, and his astonishing output of important Juche/Communist essays started getting larger.

When KJ-I went to uni, he seems to have kept himself aloof and was always intensely private. So he didn't show up in photos, or was largely inconspicuous in the background. But when he was coming to the fore as future leader, suddenly we need to explain why he's not in the centre of the photos!! Ah! We have the answer! He was so humble (echoes of Jesus here?) that he refused to be in the centre, no matter how much his astonished classmates begged him. So they first make a virtue out of it, then that transforms into proof that he's the Chosen One.

So it was a slow process, and probably wasn't intentionally planned or mapped out. Circumstances demanded further 'proof' of why it was absolutely imperative for the Kims to stay in power, and one easy way to do that is take advantage of the fact that the communist ideology had suppressed traditional religion by substituting it with a Kim religion - all the while increasing The Kim political grip on the country as shit gets worse and worse. You should read Bradley Martin's Under the Care of the Fatherly Leader. Also see B. R. Myers The Cleanest Race for a discussion of the propoganda. It's short and scary as hell.

Hope that sets you on the track! It's fascinating and extremely disturbing to read.

Edited for clarity as the kind aubgrad11 pointed out.

u/woeful_haichi · 15 pointsr/korea

Joseon era:

  • A Review of Korean History, Vol.2: Joseon Era; Woo, Han Young (2010)
  • Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. 1: From Early Times Through the 16th Century (Introduction to Asian Civilizations); Lee, Peter H. (ed) (1996)
  • Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. 2: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries; Lee, Peter H. (ed) (1996)

    I prefer the 'Review' more, but it might come across as a little dry. I feel that it does a fair job of discussing a number of topics related to the creation and running of the Joseon Dynasty, breaking the dynasty up into smaller components and then focusing on some areas (arts, military, cultural practices) within those smaller time frames. 'Sources' for me came across as more academic than 'Review' but you might enjoy it more. 'Sources' includes translations of primary sources, which is helpful, while 'Review' includes images such as paintings and maps.


  • Korea Unmasked: In Search of the Country, the Society and the People; Rhie Won-bok (2005)

    A comic book that goes into the 'making' of Korea and Korean culture. I have some reservations about this one but if you don't take it too seriously it can be a fun and easy way to get introduced to a number of topics related to Korea.

    'Modern' Korea:

  • The Dawn of Modern Korea; Lankov, Andrei (2007)
  • Korea Through Western Eyes, Book, Written in English; Neff, Robert (2009)
  • The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History; Oberdorfer, Don (2013)
  • Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History; Cummings, Bruce (2005)
  • The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies; Breen, Michael (2014)
  • Korea And Her Neighbours...; Bird, Isabella (2011; original 1897)

    Lankov's book is a collection of newspaper articles he wrote entertaining subjects like the story of Korea's first automobiles, the introduction of the first telephones, etc. Easy to digest and they offer a glimpse of what society was like at each point in time; not a 'serious' book on Korean history, though. Neff's book was a chore to get through and it felt like no editing had gone into the book before publishing. If I'm not mistaken this also started out as a series of articles for one of the local newspapers; the transition from article to book did not go quite as well.

    It's probably been 10 years since I read the books from Breen, Oberdorfer and Cummings, which makes it a little difficult to write a lot about them. Cummings I know gets criticized for being pro-North Korea in his writing, so that's something to keep in mind, while Oberdorfer I think was a correspondent living in Korea so may have a more 'eyewitness' approach to some of the events. Bird's book is a description of her travels in Korea during the Joseon period and I remember it being an interesting read. Not a balanced historical account by any means - and it obviously suffers from being written from an outside perspective at a time when ethnocentrism was more prevalent - but it may be an alternative to consider. You should be able to find a .pdf copy of that one online.

  • Fifteen Years Among The Top-Knots: Or Life In Korea; Underwood, Lillias H. (2007, original 1904)

    Haven't read this one, but I've seen others mention it in the past. It's another first-person account from Korea at the cusp of the 20th century, this time from the perspective of a medical missionary. Again, not an objective history book, but if you prefer first-person narratives it may at least be worth a look. A .pdf copy has been published online, this one by the University of Oregon.

    Edit: One I forgot to mention, but which I've also heard is used in some English-language classes on Korean history/studies:

  • Korea Old and New: A History; Eckert, Carter J. (1991) (I just noticed this is also mentioned by seaturtles7777)
u/Skinnyred1 · 13 pointsr/korea

So the broader history book is A New History of Korea and starts very very far back. It will provide a general overview of Korean history. As for modern history if you don't know much about Korea's modern history a good place to start is Korea's 20th Century Odyssey. It starts in around the 1890s and if I remember correctly ends with the democracy movements of the 1980s. It very clearly divides the different periods of Korea's 20th century experience e.g. the colonial period, the war and the Park Chung-Hee regime. It is a very good starting point. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the colonial period there are two books I would recommend, the first being Colonial Modernity in Korea which covers a lot of the developments in Korea during the colonial period. Another book I want to recommend is Under the Black Umbrella which is a collection of first hand experiences and stories of people who lived during the colonial period. As for the Park Chung-Hee period there are two suggestions I have but they mostly focus more on economic policy and development. The first book is Korea's Development Under Park Chung-Hee and the second book is Reassessing the Park Chung-Hee Era. Both are pretty high in economic content but the second book does also have a lot of content focusing on political developments. If you read a few of these you will have a good understanding of Korean modern history.

u/pompeychimes · 12 pointsr/pics

They can and it is mentioned in Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. A lot of the factories there have been shut down during the famine so the pollution isn't what it was. It describes an (almost) romanticised depiction of walking around at night in pitch dark in areas that used to be bustling and developed. Such a strange mental image.

Highly recommend this book if you're curious about everyday life in North Korea.

u/adamsw216 · 11 pointsr/Art

For Korea in general I took a lot of East Asian history courses, including courses on relations with the west, in college. I studied abroad in South Korea for a time where I studied Korean history (ancient and modern) as well as Korean culture and sociology (mostly South Korea). I also had the pleasure of speaking with someone from North Korea.
But if you're interested to know more, these are some sources I can personally recommend...


u/Qatux · 11 pointsr/worldnews

Under The Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader by Bradley K. Martin has it all. A long but gripping read.

u/Triseult · 10 pointsr/NorthKoreaNews

Andrei Lankov, in The Real North Korea published this year, argues the opposite: that any sort of reform in North Korea threatens the stability of the regime and thus the life of the North Korean elite, and thus that the Chinese way to reform is not viable for North Korea.

u/NoStaticAtAll · 9 pointsr/MapPorn

Not an expert by any means, but have read several books on the Korean penisula. Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is a book mostly about the Kim dynasty, but the first section of the book compares the two Koreas right after the war in an engaging way. Might be a place to start. Hope this helps.

u/Niekisch · 9 pointsr/CringeAnarchy

You're right, there are some really interesting-looking areas in Pyongyang, as well as some cool buildings like the Sci-Tech complex or the Great People's Study House. They're almost all concentrated in areas for tourists and Party employees though, and one thing you don't get from pictures is the rot. Everyone who visits North Korea says that even in the tourist areas there's constant signs of decay- stains in the carpets of government buildings, weeds overgrowing the sidewalk, broken lights, plumbing that doesn't work, constant power outages. In Brad Martin's book he describes being shown round a hospital, the staff proudly showing off their medical equipment... some of which was rusty, all of which was out-of-date. The city is a kind of cut-rate Potemkin village.

u/LurkeyLurkason · 7 pointsr/pics

Anyone with any interest in the real North Korea should read this

Very Interesting and it shows just how bad it really is.

worth a watch too

u/bobthewraith · 6 pointsr/shittyfoodporn

Every time a discussion regarding tourism to North Korea starts, this point always comes up. After all, it is a valid and natural point of concern.

Yes, North Korea has concentration camps and an atrocious human rights record. Nobody (except the North Korean government) is going to deny that. Yes, any foreigners in North Korea will have significant restrictions on freedom of movement. No one who has gone there is going to tell you otherwise.

Having been educated and cultivated in the West, where oftentimes we can take matters like human rights and freedom of movement for granted, our instant reaction is to be disgusted by this - so disgusted that we'll cry out "North Korea is the most evil place in the world" and instantly clam up in anger. Sometimes that anger, and the lack of reliable information about North Korea, will lead us to sensationalize. We'll try to explain unexplainable evil as a massive prison camp or a farcical socialist movie set.

This is natural and has basis in reality, but, in my opinion, is unhelpful.

If we want to truly make some sense out of that unexplainable evil, which to an appreciable extent is a prerequisite for any sort of meaningful change, we need to take a more nuanced approach. Sometimes, that could involve taking a visit.

From my perspective, going on a tour to North Korea is not supposed to be like sunning in Mallorca or frolicking in Disneyworld. You don't go there to have "fun", you go there to learn. If your objective in traveling is to have "fun", then by god don't go to North Korea. But my objective in traveling places is not to have "fun"; it's to learn.

The next instinctual response is to cry out: "But you won't learn anything! They're just going to parade you around and show you propaganda!"

Again, I think this line of thinking trivializes the matter. In earlier stages of Western education systems, we oftentimes learn about bias and come to perceive it as an absolute negative. In secondary schools you might hear kids going "oh, this source is biased, so we can't use it!" This is incorrect. Bias is not an absolute negative; biased sources like propaganda simply need to be approached differently. Propaganda is rich with information, but not the factual, face-value information you might expect from some place like an encyclopedia. Instead, you glean the wealth of contextual information it offers. Let's say you're reading Chinese propaganda from the Cultural Revolution, and some of it praises this guy named Lin Biao, while some of it denounces him. From that you shouldn't conclude "some of this shit must be fake". Instead, you can extract hints of the regime's worldview, and use the propaganda to piece together the context that perhaps Lin Biao had a falling out with Mao.

Visiting North Korea is much like that. There's a richness of context from both what's seen and unseen, from what's heard and unheard. If you're equipped with the right advance knowledge and the right academic mindset, there is in fact a lot you can internalize about actual North Koreans and the country itself.

Yes, there remains the issue of lining the pockets of the regime and whatnot, and I'm fully aware of that fact. As with everything else relating to the DPRK, there's layers of nuance to this financial facet of the regime that would take rather long to explain, so I won't do it here.

If you do want to hear that explained/debated, and go beyond CNN articles and "Team America", I'd recommend starting off with the following books:

  • Under the Loving Care of Fatherly Leader, by Bradley K. Martin: A 900 page behemoth that's probably the most comprehensive guide to the North Korean regime out there.
  • Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick: If you want to learn more about the ordinary lives of "actual North Koreans" from outside Pyongyang.
  • The Aquariums of Pyongyang, by Choi-hwan Kang: The first book published from someone who went through one of those infamous concentration camps.
  • The Impossible State, by Victor Cha: Written by a former White House official and Six-Party Talks participant, this book provides a view into the complex foreign policy calculus relating to the DPRK.

    If after you finish reading all that stuff you get curious enough to go, then that's your choice. If you don't, no one's going to force you to go either. We're fortunate enough to live in societies that generally respect freedom of choice and movement; if we want to play the game of moral superiority, being able to visit North Korea is the ultimate manifestation of that freedom.

u/whiteskwirl2 · 6 pointsr/worldnews
u/Emoticone11 · 6 pointsr/CapitalismVSocialism

>The north invaded the south. The US and allies responded and the rest is history.

It really wasn’t that clear-cut. The actual start of the Korean War was preceeded with a large number of border skirmishes along the 38th parallel, with forays over the border by both sides. As many as 10,000 North and South Korean soldiers had already died in these skirmishes before the war even broke out.

The 38th parallel was not respected by any Korean leaders and basically non-existant to the Korean populace (I’ll discuss why in a minute), and both Syngman Rhee and Kim il-Sung were planning to invade the other and become the leader of Korea.

> "On February 8, 1949, the South Korean president met with Ambassador John Muccio and Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall in Seoul. Here the Korean president listed the following as justifications for initiating a war with the North: the South Korean military could easily be increased by 100,000 if it drew from the 150,000 to 200,000 Koreans who had recently fought with the Japanese or the Nationalist Chinese. Moreover, the morale of the South Korean military was greater than that of the North Koreans. If war broke out he expected mass defections from the enemy. Finally, the United Nations’ recognition of South Korea legitimized its rule over the entire peninsula (as stipulated in its constitution). Thus, he concluded, there was "nothing [to be] gained by waiting."


>"Kim I Sek, a South Korean leader, said that Dulles told Rhee, 'Start the aggression against the north, accompanied by a counter-propaganda on the grounds that the North has invaded the South first. If you can but hold out for two weeks, everything will go smoothly, for during this period the United States, by accusing North Korea of attacking South Korea, will compel the United Nations to take action, in whose name land, naval and air forces would be mobilised.'"


Anyways, let’s briefly recount the history of Korea between their liberation from the Japanese and the Korean War to see why the 38th parallel was not widely considered to be a valid demarcation by Koreans.

Before the trusteeship even began the Koreans were building up a new independent government based in Seoul, the PRK. This government was based on networks of local governments (people’s committees), and the local governments in the north were lead by Korean nationalists like Cho Man-sik. While the northern committees had close connections with the Soviets (as they had just fought a mutual war with the Japanese in Manchukuo), the Soviets recognized the PRK as legitimate and allowed these councils to develop independently (Source).

Contrast this with the US, who upon landing in the South after the events of WW2 outlawed the PRK and deposed of it with military force. The US then declared the United States Army Military Government in place of the PRK. This government, being wholly unaware of the situation in Korea (to the point where they didn't even speak the language), was completely incompetent and largely reviled by the Korean people. Even more egregiously, the US military government in Korea appointed mostly former Japanese governors as advisors. This continued until, as part of America's containment policy, diplomats Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel proposed a trustee solution between the US and the Soviets. This trusteeship was also popularly reviled, and both Cho Man-sik in the north, and Kim Ku (who formerly lead the PRK) in the south put up a fight against it. The Soviets, despite having a hands-off relationship with Cho Man-sik previously, were pressured to accept the trusteeship solution (the alternative being that the whole of the peninsula be used as a US foothold directly to the south of the Soviets), and so they found a leader who didn't strongly oppose the trusteeship- Kim Il-sung. Cho Man-sik was eventually put under house arrest. And what happened in the South? They had "elections", except Syngman Rhee was flown into the ROK from America (he was exiled at the time), the elections were rigged, and Kim Ku (the former PRK leader who dissented to the elections) was assassinated by a Korean found in documents declassified in 2001 to have been working for the U.S. Counter-Intelligence Corps.

So the bottom line of all of this is, the “North vs. South” distinction didn’t really exist in the general Korean mindset prior to the outbreak of the war. There was a predominant opinion, especially in the northern part of the peninsula but also among the southern nationalists, that the ROK government under Rhee was invalid and came about as a result of US aggression and manipulation. That the US initiated acts of aggression in the South is not up for debate, though I think the issue at hand here is how long a complicated chain of cause and effect has to be before you can reasonably call something “self-defense”.

u/mikemaca · 5 pointsr/AskReddit

In the discussion about this before people who survived a previous NK distro it said that after the observers confirmed the food was fairly passed out, the people left with their packages and down the road the military took the food back from them. Observers don't guarantee much and these sorts of governments don't change.

Story is covered on page 56 of this book:

u/SuperAngryGuy · 5 pointsr/IAmA

Can you please give a general sense of how the South Koreans feel about the North Korean nuclear and missile issue? I imagine being under the US nuclear umbrella lessens the impact of N Korea's activities.

As a quick plug to Redditors interested about N Korea, get this book.

u/HandsofManos · 4 pointsr/northkorea

I recommend The Impossible State. I am about halfway through it and here is what I have gotten so far.

N. Korea is in a very weak position if actual war broke out. The major reason that the U.S. and S. Korea won't attack and want to avoid an all out conflict is not because they would lose, but because thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of soldiers and civilians would die before the end.

N. Korea still has to project the image that it can inflict massive amounts of casualties in order to maintain peace. If it became obvious that N. Korea could not inflict heavy losses on the South, then neither the South nor the U.S. would listen to any of its demands.

Its far more complex than that, which is why I recommend the book.

u/wic0101 · 4 pointsr/korea

Ha-Joon Chang, The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future (2007)

This title isn't entirely about South Korea, but it is written by a well-know Korean-born Cambridge economist and offers a non-Marxist heterodox perspective on East Asia in general and has a lot about South Korea. Might be worth checking out for you. But you may already know about this one, since Chang is fairly famous. He has more works that specifically focus on South Korea, but I'm not sure if they're translated into English.

Bruce Cumings, Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History (2005)

This one is more about general history of the Korean peninsula, but it still has a fairly extensive section devoted to the post-war economic development of the Korean peninsula, especially the similar yet ultimately divergent economic paths of the two Koreas. For all its detractors, it is definitely a classic in Korean historiography written in the English language, so if you haven't heard of it yet, it is definitely worth checking out.

Atul Kohli, State-Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global Periphery (2004)

This one is also a comparative historical study, but it devotes almost a third of its length on South Korea, and provides a very good overview of the link between colonization and economic development in South Korea, in addition to covering the latter years of modern Korean history. It is written by a Princeton political scientist that has extensive knowledge of comparative economic development, so it would be worth a look as well.

One note of caution though is that, if you really want to understand the post-war South Korean economic history, you also have to have some background on the economic impact of Japanese colonization (and this topic is a very, very, very, very contentious one in modern Korean history). The last one may be of help on this count.

u/Tangurena · 4 pointsr/AskReddit

After the war, what the Japanese did was mostly ignored, and communism became the new scary boogieman. The biological weapons created and used by the Japanese were hushed up, and because orientals were discriminated against in the US, and oriental languages were rarely taught in schools, it was very hard for what was happening in Asia to get to the media, or even common people.

Two books that can probably be found in your local library are:
The Korean War: A History
Korea's Place in the Sun

The response by the US to the Korean War was to drastically raise the amount of military spending (which had dropped to almost nothing after WW2) and this rise of the "military industrial complex" drove all the subsequent wars. Cumings is rather controversial for making the claim that the Korean War was the most important war that the US ever fought, as well as being controversial for not calling the North Koreans total loonies.

If you look at current NK propaganda, you'd think that they were still at war with Japan and the US. The NK regime considers their beginning about a decade prior to the semi-official recognition of NK being a country because 1937 is when the Kim family started fighting the Japanese - who had been occupying Korea with the blessing of the west for more than a quarter century.

u/justaddlithium · 3 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

"Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader" is the best book on North Korea that I've ever read. I'd say it's a good place to start.

North Korea was for a time the richer Korea. Here's a nice graph of their approximate GDP per capita.

u/IphtashuFitz · 3 pointsr/worldnews

Rather than watch the vice guide videos (which only show you the propaganda that the DPRK wants you to see) you should go read books like these:

u/mindkiller317 · 3 pointsr/northkorea

They had to praise him when the bandages came off or they'd be thrown out of their housing or sent to a work camp. Also, those people were handpicked by the government for their loyalty and training in ideology. They knew it was being filmed. It was a free propaganda stunt for NK.

It's impossible to know how brainwashed the country is. The documents and testimonials that came out of the USSR after the fall attest to this. Many of them simply went along with the party line to survive, while others consciously (or sub consciously) produced a mixture of Soviet and civilian (for lack of a better term) culture that served to both keep the regime satisfied and fulfill their own societal and cultural needs. This could very well be happening in NK. We have no idea, but recent videos that have been smuggled out show unrest in the provinces. People are talking back to police, and there was the incident with the grafitti last month. Modified radios are also more widespread than once though, so outside news is getting in moreso than it was in the last few decades.

RansomIblis is right, the army is starving. They had been the most taken care of segment of the population until very recently. If they starve, everything falls apart. They will not shoot civilians if they see that they are no longer any better than the average citizen.

I'm glad that you're interested in the NK situation, but please do some more research beyond youtubes and online vids. Check out this book for a great education on the subject. It's big, but highly readable and enjoyable.

u/shadowbannedguy1 · 3 pointsr/india

North Korean journalists can get fired for typos (reference) and the TV journalists are drama grads who are there to be a rather extreme version of Arnab Goswami. So I think North Korea isn't a good example.

u/nicool · 3 pointsr/

Thanks for defending my comment Forensic and Rancmeat.

I was indeed being serious - life in North Korea truly sucks ass - and they do eat grass and all kinds of other horrible things (unless they are favoured enough to live in Pyongyang).

For anyone that is interested, check out this book . It is only one of many very interesting books about this country but probably the best and most insighful (although it might be a bit ambitious for those just starting to learn about this country).

I guess I'll also make a suggestion to some of the commenters on this page - don't blame the governement, the media and "them" (whoever them are) for not giving you the straight story about NK (and in general). If you take the time to read a little (like not not blogs, and the first paragraph of an article) you will learn some stuff. Sorry to be a preachy asshole - but some of the comments have just been brutal lately.

u/hs_97 · 3 pointsr/history

Here are my recommendations for readings on Korean history. The list is somewhat heavy on Chosŏn (1392-1910) history mainly because it is my main research interest. If you are interested on more readings on Chosŏn history, feel free to shoot me a message.

Textbook Histories

  • Eckert, Carter J. et al. Korea Old and New: A History. Seoul: Ilchokak, 1990.
  • Seth, Michael J. A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.

    Academic Monographs

  • Duncan, John B. The Origins of the Chosŏn Dynasty. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000
    • Solid study on the nature of the 1392 dynastic transition. Duncan looks at the prevalence of Koryŏ (918-1392) elites in the new Chosŏn government as evidence of systemic continuity. The main argument covers the late Silla (668-918,) Koryŏ, and Chŏson eras.
  • Deuchler, Martina. The Confucian Transformation of Korea: A Study of Society and Ideology. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 1992.
  • Yi Tae-jin. The Dynamics of Confucianism and Modernization in Korean History. Ithaca: Cornell University East Asia Program, 2007.
    • Translation of a number of scholarly articles written by professor Yi Taejin (Seoul National University) on the issue of Neo-Confucianism and development in Chosŏn history. The final chapters provide an interesting rebuke of Japanese colonialist and Korean nationalist historiography.
  • Palais, James B. Confucian Statecraft and Institutions: Yu Hyŏngwŏn and the Late Chosŏn Dynasty. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996.
    • Monumental study of Yu Hyŏngwŏn's (Pan'gye) Pan'gye surok. In it, Palais discusses intellectual developments in the late Chosŏn period that challenged orthodox Zheng-Zhu Neo-Confucianism.
  • Eckert, Carter. Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945.Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996.
    • Study on the Koch'ang Kim family, owners of the Kyŏnbang Spinning and Weaving Company. The monograph raises the issues of the Japanese "modernization" of peninsular economy during colonial times, Korean collaborators with the Japanese administration, as well as Korea's place in the larger Japanese imperial structure.
  • Cumings, Bruce. The Origins of the Korean War, Vol. I.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.
    • Seminal study on the causes of the Korean War (1950-1953.) Cumings proposes that the Korean War cannot be simply understood as a provocation by the North. Instead, Cumings argues that division by the Allied Powers in 1945 led to armed conflict.

      Primary Sources

  • Lee, Peter H. and Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed. Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. I: From Early Times Through the Seventeenth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. and Ch'oe, Yŏng-ho and Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed. Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol II: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
    • Anthologies of translated primary sources. The sourcebooks include literature ranging from official dynastic histories, philosophical treatises, and memorials to the throne to private correspondence, political manifestos, and speeches.
  • Choi Byonghyon, trans. The Annals of King Taejo. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.
    • Complete translation into English of the Veritable Records of King T'aejo (r. 1392-1398.) The Veritable Records (K. *Chosŏn wangjo sillok*) are the posthumously-compiled official records kept for every Chosŏn monarch. They register court activities, diplomatic writings, as well as other administrative affairs.
  • JaHyun Kim Haboush, trans. The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
    • Translation of Lady Hyegyŏng's (1735-1816) four memoirs. Lady Hyegyŏng was the consort of Crown Prince Sado (1735-1762,) the son and heir of King Yŏngjo (r. 1724-1776.) Crown Prince Sado was locked on a rice chest until his death on the orders of his father.
u/pretzelzetzel · 3 pointsr/AskHistorians

I read it in Bradley K. Martin's book Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader. I can't get a page reference because I lent my copy to someone and God only knows where it is.

Most information available from North Korea is, unfortunately and by necessity, anecdotal. That being said, Martin has had almost unprecedented access to North Korea, both in terms of actual visits and in terms of defector interviews, the latter of which are featured extensively in this particular text. The point I made above I will now elabourate on slightly:

During the period when it had become clear that Kim Il-Sung intended to appoint a successor but when he had not yet made a choice, there were several men who considered themselves fit for the role. Most of them were high-ranking military officials who, like Kim the Elder himself, had earned popular credibility as anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters during the occupation and as military commanders during the Korean War. However, Kim was not about to entirely overlook his own offspring. Kim Jong-Il had no military experience and none of the charisma his father had in spades, but what he did have was political savvy. He had a certain leeway in his affairs anyway, being the son of the Great Leader, and he used it to buy gifts and flatter his father and other men in high positions. The more he did, the more his own position improved. He recognised the supreme vanity of his father and so, rather than present himself as the best candidate, he focused all his efforts on creating a nationwide cult of personality around Kim Il-Sung, alleging semidivine origins (which, as he knew, would only serve to further his own cause in the future when he himself led the nation). As part of the system of flattery which was in place around Kim Il-Sung, there were dispatches from the Party which would search through the countryside, in every small village, for pretty young girls (and I mean young. 12-16 years of age in many cases) whom they would abduct and spirit away to one of Kim's numerous mansions around the country. The family would, after wondering where their daughter could be, generally wind up receiving a note telling them their daughter had been chosen to join the [can't remember the name. It was an official organ of the military, something like Women's Auxiliary Service Corps] and was a hero of the perpetual revolution. The family would also, in fact, receive fairly substantial extra rations. The girls would eventually get too old and would then be married off to Party and military officials. This practice seems to have been widespread enough to be uncontroversial among defectors who would have been in a position to know about it.

And believe me, I know plenty about the RoK. Despite the truly incredible progress in the South since the War, there are, shockingly, people still in prison here who were arrested on suspicion of Communist sympathies in past decades, some as early as the 1940s.

u/kim_jong-un · 3 pointsr/IAmA

Here's a highly regarded book that has many hundreds of pages of interviews from defectors from the DPRK.

Personally, I prefer to shoot them.

u/NefariousNarwhal · 3 pointsr/AskReddit

It's pretty accurate, I just got through this book for a research project on North Korea.

One of the most disturbing passages in that whole book is one discussing the Pyongyang metro. There are no real passengers, there are people in proper attire who get on the train, ride it, and get off again. Over and over all day, its their job. According to the author he never even saw them take lunch breaks.

Also creepy was that North Korean children (at the time of the author's visit) were on a playground in Pyongyang, simply playing the same game over and over for any visitors. The lengths this regime goes for appearances is mind-blowing.

u/chunklight · 3 pointsr/korea

Korea's place in the sun by Bruce Cummings and Korea's 20th century Odyssey by Michael Robinson are both good overviews of modern Korean history starting in the late 19th century.

Sources of Korean tradition is a good collection of primary sources with background and analysis.

u/svenhoek86 · 3 pointsr/IAmA


It's considered the best book on North Korea and there is a reason. It's a very factual, in depth look into the country, but because of how fucked up that country is, it reads like a horror novel. I have never read a nonfiction book that got me hooked like that one did. It's a serious page turner.

u/aN_h0NEST_mAN · 3 pointsr/korea

A New History of Korea by Ki-Baik Lee has been my favorite introduction to Korea and Korean history to date. It is missing modern (post 1960) history, so you'll need to supplement it, but it is otherwise great.

u/jaywalker1982 · 2 pointsr/northkorea

Also, it's on the sidebar, but if you really want to get in depth Under The Loving Care Of The Fatherly Leader is great!

u/BucketsMcGaughey · 2 pointsr/travel

Utterly safe for you, yeah. Not so much for the people living there. I'm reading this at the minute, it's just jaw-dropping. I mean, we all know it's a shit life there, but it's far, far worse than I ever imagined. Really recommend the book.

u/chops88 · 2 pointsr/worldnews

This book, it's a really easy read and I'm pretty sure there's a chapter discussing the military and how even they're severely abused

u/absolutspacegirl · 2 pointsr/worldnews

If anyone is interested in how messed up the entire NK situation is, I highly recommend this book.

The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future

u/PT3530 · 2 pointsr/worldnews

For those who want to know more about the life of people of North Korea and what they to do escape to China Amazon

Some people even return to NK to help their families.

Slave traders build houses, in China, just across the river from NK to capture people who try to sneak into china.

u/haddockcpt · 2 pointsr/northkorea

North Korea through the looking glass

This is one my favorite (below)
North Korea: Paranoid Peninsula, a modern history

Edit: if you can get this from a library, you should
Kim Dynasty

u/just_to_annoy_you · 2 pointsr/worldnews

There is also a book by Victor Cha called "The Impossible State", that suggests though US/SK forces would ultimately win out, it'd take days to neutralize NK artillery, and 4-6 months of serious fighting.

Per Wikipedia; He is a former Director for Asian Affairs in the White House's National Security Council, with responsibility for Japan, North and South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. He was George W. Bush's top advisor on North Korean affairs.

u/nannerpus · 2 pointsr/

I bought Mike Kim's book Escaping North Korea after seeing that segment air and I must say I was extremely disappointed. The book seems very poorly constructed and he pushes the Christianity a little much for me. I recommend reading the 3 star and below ratings on Amazon, I wish I had before purchasing this book.

On the other hand, an extremely good book I read before reading Mike Kim's book was Aquariums of Pyongyang: 10 Years in a North Korean Gulag by Chol-hwan Kang. If you're interested in North Korea from the inside, especially the prison camps, this is the book to read.

u/Not_Korean · 2 pointsr/korea

I don't know of one book that fits all of those descriptions, but individually, here is a sampling of the books I have in my collection.

Korea Old and New : History

Korea's Place in the Sun, by Bruce Cumings

The Park Chung Hee Era, edited by Byung-Kook Kim and Ezra F. Vogel


I hope these help!


u/d3pd · 2 pointsr/lgbt

>Is it really tyranny if God can forgive anything?

I don't recognise his authority to pass judgement on me. He is a self-appointed adjudicator.

>He never spoke about homosexuality

This is simple cherry-picking. You're dismissing the disgraceful doctrines in Leviticus and accepting the absence of comment on the subject by someone for whom there is no evidence even of existence.

This is actually to your credit. I am not insulting you for being inconsistent, I am giving you credit for being better than the religion.

>I seem to find it a little hard as to how God could be elected. He created the universe

God claims to be in an ultimate position of being judge and jury of people, of whom he claims ownership, and implements eternal torture in a barbaric legal system with no appeals procedure. It is to this position he appoints himself. I do not recognise the right of anyone to hold such a position, especially if it is unelected and undemocratic.

Just as a parent cannot claim ownership of his child or torture it, creating something does not grant you sole judgement of it or ownership of it.

>I think of a dictator as a power-hungry individual who rules alone over a group of people against the interests of the people, and uses immoral tactics to retain power.

A dictator is a ruler who wields absolute authority. What you describe is closer to a tyrant. A dictator holds an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without restraint by a legislative assembly. A dictator is inherently antidemocratic.

>God rules, for lack of a better word, over us as a benevolent Father

I don't see anything about the rule of God as benevolent and anyone can claim to be your "Father" -- remember Kim Il-sung?

>He acts so that we may benefit forever in Heaven, even sending Himself down as Jesus to die so that we can benefit.

This sounds either like an honour killing or the ravings of a madman.

Quite aside from the antiscientific practices of Christianity and the utter lack of evidence for its supernatural claims, the doctrine of Christianity promotes outrageous ethics and ancient, tribal ideas of retribution. It demands, under threat of torture, that we support the unelected dictatorship of God who has a disgraceful justice system of torture with no appeals procedure. Christianity is an expression of support for a permanent, unelected, unalterable, unquestionable dictatorship, capable of convicting thoughtcrime, demanding unending praise and worship under threat of violence and torture for an eternity after death. This dictatorship claims ownership of people. I do not recognise the right of anyone to own anyone else. This dictatorship is utter and it is horrifying. I don't want it and I don't respect anyone who does. It is a very good thing that there is no evidence for it.

u/Morefoodplease · 2 pointsr/korea

This is a list that I saved (from reddit a while back. I wish I could give credit to the original poster, but the person who posted it also quoted the list. So whoever compiled this list. KUDOS! I wish I could give you credit:

>So the broader history book is A New History of Korea and starts very very far back. It will provide a general overview of Korean history. As for modern history if you don't know much about Korea's modern history a good place to start is Korea's 20th Century Odyssey. It starts in around the 1890s and if I remember correctly ends with the democracy movements of the 1980s. It very clearly divides the different periods of Korea's 20th century experience e.g. the colonial period, the war and the Park Chung-Hee regime. It is a very good starting point. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the colonial period there are two books I would recommend, the first being Colonial Modernity in Korea which covers a lot of the developments in Korea during the colonial period. Another book I want to recommend is Under the Black Umbrella which is a collection of first hand experiences and stories of people who lived during the colonial period. As for the Park Chung-Hee period there are two suggestions I have but they mostly focus more on economic policy and development. The first book is Korea's Development Under Park Chung-Hee and the second book is Reassessing the Park Chung-Hee Era. Both are pretty high in economic content but the second book does also have a lot of content focusing on political developments. If you read a few of these you will have a good understanding of Korean modern history.

u/AurorasWake · 2 pointsr/CombatFootage

I'm gonna have to check that one out. The Last Stand of Fox Company is another great book for those interested.

It focuses on the 234 men of Fox Company and how they held Fox Hill against thousands of Chinese.

u/blueblur · 2 pointsr/history

> About 18 of 22 of North Korea's major cities were "at least half obliterated

Backed by real statistics and quotes for which you give no source.

Also, your more legitimate question shows an amount of hyperbole that I would expect you to be unhappy with if someone else said it. Don't you think that claiming that "bombarding the entire peninsula to the ground" is an extreme exaggeration?

If you doubt the veracity of the story, I recommend the following book:

The authors are Bob Drury who has a Pulitzer and Tom Clavin who wrote for the New York Times for 15 years and various magazines including Smithsonian.

u/NekoFever · 2 pointsr/unitedkingdom

Basically. He modelled himself on Mao and doubled down on the ethnic nationalism. I recommend The Cleanest Race by Brian Myers if you want to read about that side of Juche.

u/arthur-righteous · 2 pointsr/history

I also really enjoyed Nothing to Envy.

I would add

'Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader' - Bradley K. Martin

u/virak_john · 2 pointsr/funny

Some people did fairly okay.

Source: Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader

u/SemanticTriangle · 2 pointsr/AustralianPolitics

"To the contrary," of what? Please repeat your question in a full sentence so that I know what you are asking about. There is no logical 'contrary' position to my statement.

I expressed that I understood why Warner didn't call POTUS an idiot. I went on to express that Warner made himself look like a putz by indicating that any part of POTUS' actions before, during, or after those meetings was 'the right thing'. Nothing about any of the recent photo-op meetings with the DPRK was anything but theater for morons.

Go read The Impossible State. It's impossible in a few sentences, paragraphs, or even pages to plumb the depths of just how bad POTUS fucked up his approach to the DPRK. The evidence speaks for itself.

u/sassy-andy · 1 pointr/television

A docu-drama based around Nothing to Envy, a fantastic and devestating book by Barbara Demick about six seperate people who esacpe from North Korea.

It would have to have the HBO treatment and cannot shy away from the violence, torture and emotional gravity of the situation - whilst at the same time not glorifying it.

There are six(?) escapees who are documented in the book, so a 6 - 8 episode, self contained series would be incredible

u/snowwalrus · 1 pointr/TrueReddit

His book goes into more detail about the rural peasantry. I just finished it. Great read, as he refuses to make blanket generalizations about any aspect of the country, and goes into lengthy explanations about specific situations.

The rural population is doing fairly well, largely as a result of illegal businesses, which local authorities have, for the most part, simply begun to allow to exist. Lankov explains that to allow them to do very well, like the peasantry of Vietnam and China, would be to invite governmental collapse. Several chapters in the book are devoted to the idea that Kim Jong Un is in a tight spot, because the people want to develop their economy, but that would increase interaction with the outside world, which would cause a revolt. The big secret the NK government is trying to keep right now is just how much better South Korea is doing, economically. The NK population know the south is better off, but they have no idea just how much. They think that the South currently has about twice their wealth, but in exchange for this, they live under the jackboot of the US, and they have sacrificed their national honor. The actual difference is closer to 40-1, and there's very little US interference in the Southerner's lives. This is the great secret that the NK government needs to keep quiet, and more economic development will let the cat out of the bag.

u/adrenal8 · 1 pointr/Documentaries

On North Korean along with the Vice ones you've already seen I can recommend the following that you can find on Netflix:

Inside North Korea Lisa Ling (sister of Laura Ling, who was trapped in North Korea) travels to North Korea with an eye surgeon who is doing humanitarian work there. There's a really great scene after all of the patients get their bandages unwrapped.

Crossing the Line About Americans who defected to North Korea during the Korean War and live/lived in Pyongyang. Really interesting stuff.

Kim Jong Il's Comedy Club / The Red Chapel This one is about Korean-Danish comedians who go to Pyongyang to do a very peculiar comedy routine. It's full of awkward moments but there's some pretty insightful stuff in there.

A State of Mind I haven't seen this one, and it's not on Netflix, but it's the same director as Crossing the Line (he's earned DPRK's trust and is allowed access for movies). It's about North Korean girls preparing for the Mass Games.

Also two books I would recommend are Nothing to Envy about ordinary citizens lives during the famine of North Korea and The Real North Korea which explains why politically, North Korea has no choice but to continue the current path.

I don't have any recommendations for China, sorry.

u/leaf_onthe_wind · 1 pointr/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon

I would donate it to Liberty in North Korea. I think what they're doing is extremely important but not enough people know/care about the people of North Korea.

And keep some to fund me and my boyfriend moving to Korea when we finish our degrees because I don't think I could move in with his parents!

This book, or any of the books in my wishlist, if I were to win :)

Thanks for the contest!

u/KrisK_lvin · 1 pointr/MensRights

> i ask you to explain to me, how the average person has the required level of knowledge on politics to make informed decisions about who should run state?

It’s not necessary to explain this to you because the question is entirely irrelevant. It is a very narrow and parochial understanding of knowledge which becomes apparent if you reverse the question: How can any one individual, or small group of select individuals, have the required knowledge of the populace to make informed decisions about how the state should be run on their behalf?

The issue is not whether "the vast majority of people” have or don’t have "the required level of knowledge on politics” because they don’t need whatever this specialist knowledge is to have specialist knowledge of their own lives and families.

In fact, for that matter, specialist knowledge of the kind you are talking about is highly disputed, is not a well-defined object that can be learned or not and is the subject of endless debate - in a democracy at least that’s true. Under a dictatorship you can simply have dissenting voices silenced.

> … dictatorships are less pleasant but democracies are just as corrupt as any dictatorship its just far less obvious ...

That is absolute rubbish. I mean it’s not even a different point of view, just actual palpable nonsense.

The only way in which that statement could be true is if we were to extend the meaning of ‘Democracy’ to include countries like North Korea as they are named the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea or Zimbabwe or any other places which ostensibly have some form of democracy, let’s say Nigeria, but where corruption is absolutely rife and not even “far less obvious” but plain to see to anyone from the minute they wake up in the morning to the moment they go to bed at night.

The important point there from your argument is that the issues of corruption in the latter ‘democracies’ have absolutely nothing to do with the form of government they have, or who is in power at any one time, or whether or not the populace at large have what you call "the required level of knowledge on politics to make informed decisions”.

Corruption exists in democracies such as the US or the UK and so on. But so do burglary, murder, extortion, rape, riots, inequality and any number of other crimes and injustices. A democratic system is not a promise of utopia and was never meant to be.

You’re a student so you’re young and it’s fine to hold pompous and silly ideas for the sake of shocking older people such as myself, but if it really is the case that you have actually "done considerable research” into dictatorships and democracies, then perhaps you could tell me what your thoughts on. The Open Society and Its Enemies: Volume 1: The Spell of Plato as I have to say your comments are rather suggestive of the idea that you think a dictatorship ruled by an elite class of selfless and benign philosophers would be just as good, perhaps better, than a democracy.

You could also, for instance, look at books such as these and explain where you can find anything comparable happening under a functioning democracy (and not e.g. those I mentioned before):

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder

The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World by Theodore Dalrymple

Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot

u/robbie321 · 1 pointr/PoliticalScience

This probably isn't the response you were wanting, but rather than reinventing the wheel I would recommend either reading the Wikipedia pages if you want the short answer to this question or Bruce Cumming's book, "Korea's Place in the Sun" for the long answer to Korea's contemporary history.

u/wickintheair · 1 pointr/IAmA

I don't think visiting a country who has a differing foreign policy is really comparable to visiting a country where an oppressive dictator has kept 23 million brainwashed people in utter poverty and starvation. Whatever money you spend in North Korea goes to those in power, and they certainly aren't using that money to feed their people. No, it's more like Hennessy and cigarettes.

Furthermore, anyone who suggests that the official tour that everyone who visits NK goes on is in any way a full and accurate depiction of day to day life in North Korea is kidding themselves. That tour is carefully crafted to only show what the propaganda arm of NK wants. You have two tour guides who are carefully selected from party loyalists, you're not allowed to leave their sight, you're not allowed to talk with anyone else, you're not allowed to take pictures they don't like. I'm not quite sure how you would bring a "glimpse of hope" to an average North Korean if you're not allowed to interact with them in any way.

If you're interested in learning about day to day life in NK, I would recommend reading North of the DMZ by Andrei Lankov, who studied in North Korea in the 80's, or Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, who interviewed many defectors about their experiences in NK.

Tourism isn't going to do much for the average North Korean. For a start, I'd place my money on soap operas smuggled in from South Korea and pirate radio stations.

u/basilect · 1 pointr/NorthKoreaNews

One of the most interesting chapters I've read from Victor Cha's book The Impossible State talked about the Rason Industrial Area and the role that the little throwaway gift of a choco pie played in screwing up one major industrial venture.

Incidentally, if you're at all interested in North Korean history, I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's incredibly broad, and written exceptionally well.

u/itag67 · 1 pointr/worldnews

Well, I have to tell you you are totally wrong. We do know a lot about the domestic life from defectors to the south, aid workers, Chinese business men that travel there frequently, and the occasional tourist. There are extensive accounts of what life is like there in the city and in the country. But nice try Mr. Know-it-all.

Unlike you I can substantiate my claims with sources:

u/RepostFromLastMonth · 1 pointr/worldnews

Yes. The older generation that still remembers are in favor of unification, but the younger generations see them as another country, and a burden that they'd have to pay for (in an already highly competitive society). They see them as a massive amount of uneducated and brainwashed refugees they would have to pay for who would not fit into modern South Korean society.

North Koreans do escape and defect to the south. It is not an easy thing for them. They are looked down on by the South Koreans, and they are in a place where the language is different, their skills and credentials are no longer valid (I remember reading an interview with a girl who was a doctor in North Korea, but her credentials were not accepted by places in the South and she had to go back to school).

North Koreans who escape to the South are automatically granted citizenship. Right now, with a trickle of defectors, that is fine. But if the country fell, they would need to keep them sequestered in NK, and then deal with the North's disillusionment as they see how bad they are off compared to the South, and that they will likely never be able to have the lives that the South Koreans have achieved after reunification and the anger that will bring. The issue would reverberate long after, and it may only be the children or grandchildren of those from the North who will finally succeed in the South.

If you are interested in the history of North Korea, I highly recommend reading Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, which gives a very good and complete history of North Korea from its founding till the 1990's.

After that, I recommend Nothing to Envy, which is a collection of interviews following the lives of six North Korean defectors.

Other Books to read:

  • Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee--A Look Inside North Korea
  • This is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood
  • The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia
  • The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea
u/NeinNyet · 1 pointr/audiobooks


A Short History of the Korean War

East of Chosin ,Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950 - Appleman

Vietnam - (same time period) Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu

Vietnam - (same time period) - Street Without Joy - B Fall

u/freemanposse · 1 pointr/history

I used this book. You might look for it in your local library.

u/ShiningPark · 1 pointr/history

I have read some books on North Korea.The followings are some books which may be useful for you:The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia

u/Blitzpull · 1 pointr/worldnews

What world do you live in? Seriously, I would really like to know what deluded fantasy that you live in where this kind of money goes back to the people. It doesn't. You think this tourism helps people, think its help them open their eyes? Well what happens then if their eyes are somehow magically opened by the tourists who they have little to no contact with. Its not like you can walk up to someone and start talking to them, or does somehow the sight of a foreigner open their eyes to over 60 years of continuous brainwashing? But say they are somehow magically opened, what then? They are stuck in a country where their neighbors would rat them out for a hint of dissent, and they and their entire family would be shipped off to concentration camps that would make the Nazis proud.

Are you so fucking naive to believe this actually helps the citizens? Every time we try to give aid to the North, we can't even get the simplest guarantee from them that they would go to the people. They can't even finish their own infrastructures without foreign help, and even if they finish the outside they don't even bother to work on the inside. The vast majority of their spending goes to the military, we know this for a fact, that's why they invest so heavily into nuclear weapons and they actually have been able to accomplish some things (albeit poorly).

Economic liberalization would be helpful to the North for a variety of reasons but this is all tightly controlled, regulated and run by the state. This is not some private enterprise of North Koreans, they are carefully, screened, chosen and watched by a state, whose only purpose is to keep itself afloat and to keep its top people rich off the backs of its own citizens. But this tourism is stupid, especially when people come back with these misguided ideas of "Oh it doesn't look so bad". To think that this benefits anyone other than the state is a complete delusion. If you actually want to learn something about North Korea I would reccomend those books.

u/fapperramone · 1 pointr/korea

I'm almost ordering the Michael J Seth one, but he did a revised edition called A Concise History of Korea. Thinking in buy this one instead. After read some pieces of China and Japan history, I want to learn about Korea's too.

u/Kasegauner · 1 pointr/northkorea

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader by Bradley K. Martin is the best one that I've read.

u/picmip · 1 pointr/IAmA

If you don't get an AMA, then this book was quite an interesting read.

It's by Victor Cha, Wikipedia describes him as follows:

>He is a former Director for Asian Affairs in the White House's National Security Council, with responsibility for Japan, North and South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.[1] He was President Bush's top advisor on North Korean affairs.[2] He currently holds the D. S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair in Asian Studies and is the Director of the Asian Studies program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Cha is also senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

u/InventedBeards · 1 pointr/pics

Wow, he shot the cover of Nothing to Envy, an excellent book.

u/Fenwick23 · 1 pointr/Military

> if you haven't read up on the "Chosin Reservoir" you motherfucking need to. 15,000 marines were surrounded by some (50,000?) Chinese and fought their way out in the most horrible of conditions.

Regarding Chosin, I feel compelled as an Army veteran to recommend two books on the subject of the Battle of Chosin, and the Korean War in general: East of Chosin by Roy Appleman details the experiences of the Army 7th ID's RCT-31 in defending the Marines' right flank, and The Forgotten War by Clay Blair jr. Both texts avoid the perpetuation of the myth that RCT-31 displayed cowardice at Chosin. For many years after the battle, USMC "middle management" allowed their parochialist dislike of the Army to color their interpretation of RCT-31's actions at Chosin to the point of accusing them of throwing down their weapons and running away from the Chinese. In reality, RCT-31 was massively outnumbered and lost a majority of its personnel as wounded and KIA in keeping the Chinese from advancing down the east shore, and the few combat-ready survivors, reduced from a regiment to a mere battalion, fought right alongside the 1st Marine Division in the breakout.

u/FetusFeast · 1 pointr/books

lets see...

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> The Last Stand of Fox Company is a great book that covers that battle as well. [](

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u/thompsonforsheriff70 · 1 pointr/northkorea

Sorry, wish I could answer your questions but I just found the post on Imgur and put it up. I did live in South Korea myself for the last 3 years as an ESL teacher and had a chance to visit the DMZ between the two countries, did a lot of research as well because I find it so fascinating and tragic that a place like the North can actually exist today. I think the answer to a lot of those questions you asked can be found in the VICE doc. There's one called "Mass Games" that is excellent as well. If you're interested in how the whole cult of personality/communist Kim succession thing took root, the book "Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader" by an American journalist who has visited DPRK several times is excellent.
From what I understand, you see only what they want you to see, you ask only certain questions and get only certain responses. It's all a dog-and-pony show. Korean food is pretty decent, and almost every guy on the peninsula over the age of 16 smokes like a chimney. Hope this info helps!

u/3danimator · 1 pointr/WTF

I have. I know all about the sea org, its nothing like living in NK and to suggest otherwise is an insult to north korean suffering.

For one thing, they can leave anytime they want. if they wanted to badly enough. For another, no one in sea org is eating bark to survive.

please read this book to get first hand accounts of how it was during the famine in NK

Its heartbreaking. Especially the classrooms of young kids getting smaller and smaller in number as more of them die from malnutrition and the teacher being too hungry to give them any of her meagre amounts of food and feeling guilty for the rest of her life.

u/sfasu77 · 1 pointr/WTF

If you guys want to educate yourselves on this fascinating hermit state, read this:

BTW.. he just sentenced his family to death or best case, a life of hard labor.

u/NigelLeisure · 1 pointr/History_Bookclub

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for but Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty was a good read. It is more about the Kim family regime than the creation of NK, although it is addressed in a chapter to some detail.

u/iatowks · 1 pointr/korea

Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History is amazing. You can find it at What the Book bookstore.

u/Tail_Risk_Event · 1 pointr/worldnews

For a pretty great analysis of unification and North Korea in general, I would recommend checking out The Impossible State by Victor Cha. It's incredibly insightful and well written, plus a pretty easy read.

u/sideways86 · 0 pointsr/AskHistorians

If you're interested in digging deeper on this subject, this is a great book:

u/msfayzer · 0 pointsr/NorthKoreaNews

I don't remember where exactly I read that. Probably in either Nothing to Envy or The Impossible state.

I highly recommend both books (though I thought that Cha came off as a bit defensive at times) for general reading on the DPRK.

u/LifeWin · -8 pointsr/pics

You pretend Obama is sympathetic towards the South Koreans, but he really isn't. A republican - not a democrat - G.W.Bush is actually generally respected as the president in living memory who has done the most for US-Korean relations^1 . South Koreans advocate a Korea First mentality, North Korea has Juche. Frankly, these 3 countries would get along a lot better if the USA admitted to itself and eachother that they're OK with prioritizing themselves. It's natural; and nationalism doesn't preclude allies...

Also, the Kim regime is built upon the principle that they are the rightful protectors of the Korean peninsula. Their [completely insane] origin story has Kim Jong Il being born on a sacred mountaintop, while Kim Il Sung was the leader of the Korean independence movement (independence from Japan). Supposedly, even Kim Il Sung's grandfather was the mastermind behind the General Sherman Incident.

Kim Jong Un might be ridiculous, but pretty much his only mandate is to create a united, independent Korea.

^1 Cha, Victor. The Impossible State (2013).