This book provides an evenhanded coverage of Korea's turbulent history during the last one hundred years, from seclusion to division. It focuses particularly on the development of the two different and antagonistic states on the peninsula since 1945. The author sees both countries through the windows of their possibilities and interests. He supplements his narrative, which makes use of rich source material, with observations he has made in South Korea, where he spent more than ten years from the 1970s to the 1990s, and where he had access to politicians and opinion leaders.The book starts by describing how the Hermit Kingdom was exposed to the greed of foreign powers at the end of the 19th century and how it became the victim of imperialistic Japan, then account is given of the country's division and the hardening of that division through the Korean War. The rule of the military and the final triumph of civilian democrats in South Korea are analyzed in much detail. One chapter is devoted to the rise and intermittent decline of the South Korean economy. The history of North Korea under Kim II Sung and under his son is told, before the foreign relations of both Koreas are explained. A chapter on the so far overwhelmingly antagonistic South-North relations concludes the book.
Korea and the modern age: the Hermit Kingdom; within reach of the world powers; the Japanese rule. Divided Korea: the origins of the division of Korea; the Korean War phase one - towards reunification; the Korean War phase two - the division hardens. Politics and economics in the Republic of Korea: Syngman Rhee's Korea; the rise of Park Chung Hee; the Yushin system; steps to power; no better country?; "Down with Military Dictatorship"; the beginnings of democratic rule; civilian leadership; the economy. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea: the state of Kim II Sung; North Korea under the son. Foreign relations: South Korea's great partner; the neighbour in the east; northern policy; North Korea's foreign partners; nuclear dangers and beyond; South-North relations - confrontation and dialogue.