With tensions escalating between the United States and North Korea over the North's resumption of its nuclear weapons program, Korea has recently become a focus of media attention. Home to more than 60 million people today, North Korea and South Korea have been divided along the 38th parallel since the defeat of Japan (Korea's former colonial ruler) at the end of World War II. Outside of Korea, South Korea is better known than its neighbour to the north is, and it has prospered over the last few decades as a model democratic regime. North Korea remains a secretive society, struggling to meet the needs of its people, and is something of a mystery to most outsiders. And while the geographical and ideological divisions that now separate the North from the South persist, the two countries share a long history and a uniquely Korean culture.
Written by one of the leading experts on Korea, A Brief of Korea covers the history of Korea from the origins of the Korean people in prehistoric times to the economic and political situation in North and South Korea today. Providing a detailed overview of the cultural and historical influences that have shaped Korean society, the author discusses the major periods of Korean history-Three Kingdoms, Koryo Dynasty, and Chosun Dynasty; the foreign invasions Korea has endured; the post-World War II situation that led to the country's division and the Korean War; and developments in North and South Korea from the end of the Korean War up through the present.