• A Brief History of Korea

  • Isolation, War, Despotism and Revival: The Fascinating Story of a Resilient But Divided People
  • By: Michael J. Seth
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Asia
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Korea was one of the last countries in Asia to be visited by Westerners, and its borders have remained largely unchanged since it was unified in the seventh century. Though it is one of the world's oldest and most ethnically homogeneous states, Korea was not born in a vacuum. Geographically isolated, the country was heavily influenced by powerful China and was often used as a bridge to the mainland by Japan. 

Calling themselves as "a shrimp among whales", Koreans borrowed elements of government, culture, and religion, all the while fiercely fighting to maintain independence from powerful neighbors. This fascinating book tells the story of Korean domestic dynasties, empires, and states, as well as foreign conquest, occupation, and division. Today, the two Koreas are starkly different - North Korea a nation closed to the world and South Korea an economic powerhouse and center of Asian democracy. 

Chronicling significant events right up through 2018's Singapore Summit, author Michael J. Seth presents a relevant, interesting, and important history of Korea within a larger global context. Korea's history is a turbulent one, but ultimately the story of a resistant and resourceful people in search of lasting peace.

©2019 Michael J. Seth (P)2019 Tantor

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What listeners say about A Brief History of Korea

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Loved the historical context but ..

I found that the historical context was very interesting but I had a problem with the overall balance of it. As it seems to only support the beliefs of the author and not a explanation of the nation and peoples of Korea. So was lacking in some things, most importantly spiritual beliefs were passed over with brief mentions. Also political figures were villianized unless the author agree about the policies they had. So if you wanted a more historical account that is neutral this will not be a good choice.
The book seems to support the leftist progressive ideals that are found within the United States and other Westernized nations. And gives no regards to the actual culture of Asian culture or most importantly that of Korean culture. Saying that things which are considered important to Koreans are not as open minded as they should be. Focusing a lot on feminism and the thoughts shared with this political thought pattern. I was hoping for more knowledge of the Korean culture.

16 people found this helpful

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Highly Ethnocentric

Although the historical information is there, the good parts of this book are embedded in a western-centric, highly opinionated style harkening to 18th century colonialist prose. An unfortunate read if you're looking for an unbiased account in Korea.

8 people found this helpful

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Why is a westerner reading this?

Content is ok. Why is a non-Korean reading this when the intro starts with how hard the language is. Being of Korean descent myself its like nails on a chalkboard listening to him try to pronounce the Korean words.

3 people found this helpful

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One sided view

Latter chapters had the authors view instead telling history. I was born in post Korean War in 1958 and lived through the success of president Pak JungHee. I feel that this book did not represent many post war citizens view.

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Butchered Korean words / cringe-worthy

I am CRINGING!!!!!!!!!!!! Could they not find someone to authentically narrate this book? I couldn’t really listen to the book because of the butchered words. Seems so obvious to get someone who can speak to be a narrator. I couldn’t even understand most of words as they were too whitewashed for me. Thanks ‘merica!

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Eye Opening

Most folks reading this book already know of the dynamics between North and the South and possibly how thy came to be separated. What I didn't know are the details and fascinating history of the country and people as a whole and how they got to where they are today. This book brings the history of the Korean people and their struggles into a light that shows their resiliency and tenacity to be self-governing and principled people. I will very likely read this book again in the future and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about Korea.