A New History of Korea A New History of Korea
a new history

By: Lee, Ki-Baik

This is considered one of the most comprehensive, widely read, and respected Korean Studies texts written by one of Korea’s top scholars. It is notable for the inclusion of cultural development “not merely as isolated expressions of the creative spirit of the Korean people, but as an integral component of the overall Korean historical experience.” Although some of Ki-Baik Lee’s interpretations of history remain controversial, his book has enjoyed unparalleled acceptance by academics and the educated public.


Chung Hyo Ye: Tales of filial devotion, loyalty, respect and benevolence from the history and folklore of Korea
By: Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project. n.d.
Seoul: Diamond Sutra Recitation Group

The booklet contains some of Korea’s most famous folk tales and conveys many of the important values in the process. The entire booklet is available by accessing the following website: www.kscpp.net

Korea in World History
A Step From Heaven
By: Clark, Don
This is outstanding introductory account of Korean history in a global context. The chapters are concise, informative, and engaging. Clark’s account demonstrates the relevancy of Korean history for American readers

North Korea through the Looking Glass
By: Oh, Kongdan and Ralph C. Hassig

Sixty years after its founding at the beginning of the Cold War, North Korea remains one of the world’s most isolated and enigmatic nations, dominated by the official ideology of Juche, which emphasizes national self-reliance, independence, and worship of the supreme leader, Kim Jong Il. Oh and Hassig explore North Korea's stubborn adherence to policies that have failed to serve the welfare of some twenty million people. The book explains in fascinating detail how North Korea has survived the fall of the global socialist system and the significant challenges surrounding reunification.

A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period through the Nineteenth Century
By: Seth, Michael J.

Michael J. Seth, an associate professor of history at James Madison University, has written an engaging and concise history of pre-modern Korea. Seniors in high school and undergraduate students will find this book to be particularly interesting as it equally emphasizes social, cultural and political history. While focusing on Korea, he emphasizes how Korean history can be understood as part of an interactive sphere that includes China, Japan and the Manchurian/Central Asia region. He does not burden his readers with facts, but after providing detailed political developments, he inevitably steps back and explains what the details signify. This is one of the latest and most valuable new resources for teachers of Asian Studies.

Bipolar Orders: The Two Koreas since 1989
dear juno
By: Lynn, Hyung Gu
2007, Black Point, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing

Carter Eckert, Professor of Korean History (Harvard University) states that “among the plethora of recent books on Korea, this is one that truly stands out” as an essential book to read for anyone interested in contemporary Korea. While the author states that he is not against reunification, he examines whether it is a “necessary or inevitable process.”

East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute
By: David C. Kang
“David Kang’s book is well written and rich in details that provide a deeper understanding of the traditions and practices that were the basis of East Asian stability for centuries before the arrival of Western merchants and missionaries. While explaining the complex interactions of the political entities of the 14th through the 19th centuries, Kang also points out why an understanding of the period is necessary to understand what the future holds for modern successors of Asian countries.” Thomas P. Dolan in Education About Asia

Ethnic Peace in the American City: Building Community in Los Angeles and Beyond
By: Chang, Edward and Jennette Diaz-Veizades
This book “documents the nature of contemporary interethnic relations in the United States by describing the dynamics of race in inner-city Los Angeles… The authors explore practical means by which ethnically fragmented neighborhoods can work together to begin to address their common concerns before tensions become explosive.” Paperback.

Fifty Wonders of Korea. Vol.1. Culture and Art
By: Korean Spirit & Culture Promotion Project
2007, Seoul: Diamond Sutra Recitation Group

In addition to a section on printing, language, and history, the second part of this well-written book describes some of the great treasures of Korean art, architecture, ceramics, and sculpture. The booklet contains many beautiful illustrations. The complete book may be found at this website: www.kscpp.net

Hamel’s Journal and a description of the Kingdom of Korea (1653-1666)
good fortune
By: Hamel, Hendrik
1994, Seoul: Royal Asiatic Society

Hamel’s fascinating account is the earliest report in a western language about Korea, its people and their customs

King Sejong the Great: The Everlasting Light of Korea. Korean Spirit and Culture Series II
By: Diamond Sutra Recitation Group. n.d.
The booklet is an engaging and well-written account of King Sejong’s achievements, especially the coverage on the invention of han’gul. This entire book may found on www.kscpp.net

Korea and Her Neighbors
korea and neighbors
By: Bird, Isabella Lucy
2004, Boston: Adamant Media Corporation
The author was a famous traveler and writer in the late nineteenth century and visited Korea four times between 1894 and 1897. Her book is a fascinating record of the Korean people, their customs, and way of life just after the Sino-Japanese War. Her account includes her observations about Queen Min and the Liancourt rocks, which continue to be an ongoing issue between Korea and Japan.

Korea Old and New: A History
korea old and new
By: Eckert, Carter et al
1990, Seoul: Ilchokak Publishers

This source has been one of the most widely consulted and acclaimed books about Korea and it was for years was a basic text in Korean Studies courses. The tumultuous developments of the 20th century receive the most coverage, but the book's balanced treatment of traditional Korea emphasizes cultural events as integrally related to the political, social, and economic evolution of a very old and distinguished civilization. Five highly regarded scholars provide the reader with an understanding of each period, clarifying the past while providing an understanding of the truly remarkable changes that have taken place in Korea.

Korean Spirit and Culture Series
By: n.d. Admiral Yi Sun-sin
Seoul: Diamond Sutra Recitation Group

The book introduces the reader to the life and achievements of one of Korea’s great military heroes. The entire book may be found at the following website: www.kscpp.net.

Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History
korea's place in the sun
By: Cumings, Bruce

The author, a leading American authority on modern Korea, provides the reader with an accessible, informative and exciting account of Korean history. Beginning with an overview of the nation’s cultural and political traditions, the author then focuses specifically on the country's long 20th century--a period of colonial exploitation by Japan, war, national division, rapid economic growth and political turmoil. His concluding chapter discusses the significance of the Korean migration to the United States.

Los Angeles’s Koreatown
los angeles's koreatown
By: Katherine Yungmee Kim
Katherine Yungmee Kim, a young writer and free lance journalist for KoreAm, has written an engaging and well written historical account of Koreatown Los Angeles with photographs. The book includes images and information from the arrival of the first Koreans in 2003 through the Los Angeles Riots of 1991 and beyond. The final photograph and caption includes plans for Koreatown in the near future.

North Korea: 2005 and Beyond
North Korea: 2005 and Beyond
By: Yun, Philip W. and Gi-Wook Shin. Editors

The editors have included articles written by some of leading North Korean specialists in politics, economics, human rights, and security issues. The book presents a snapshot of what is happening in Korea now and the challenges of dealing with North Korea.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
By: Demick, Barbara
2009, Spiegel and Grau

The Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times takes her title from a song of national pride that teachers in North Korea have their children sing, which claims that they “have nothing to envy in the world. The New York Times Review of Books states that “her book is a powerful account of the life stories of defectors that suggests a human rights tragedy of huge proportions that is taking place out of the view of the Western public, while news headlines focus on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.”

Sources of Korean Civilization, Volumes 1 and 2
Sources of Korean Civilization, Volumes 1 and 2
By: Lee, Peter

This anthology is the most ambitious, comprehensive, and authoritative English-language sourcebook of Korean civilization ever assembled. Encompassing social intellectual, religious, and literary traditions from ancient times through World War II, this collection reveals the body of thought, beliefs, and customs unique to the Korean people. Each section begins with a broad historical introduction to provide context and perspective, and contains representative writings from the era, with commentary, background, and analysis.

Tears of Blood: A Korean War POW’s Fight for Freedom, Family, and Justice
By Yoo, Young-Bok 2012
Tears of Blood is a highly readable and concise account of a survivor of the Korean War, harsh imprisonment, and forty-seven years of extreme hardship in North Korea until he escaped to freedom in South Korea at age seventy. Yoo’s moving account is beautifully translated by Paul Kim who was only a junior in high school when he translated the autobiography. Tears of Blood is highly recommended for high school and undergraduate students.

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War
By: Halberstam, David

The author, one of he most distinguished American journalists and historians, has written a “superb conjoining of all the facts of this tragic war: the military tactics and strategy of both sides, the international diplomacy; the internal politics; the personalities of the various players.” It is a great book and possibly the best one-volume history of the Korean War ever written in English.

The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies
By: Breen, Michael
1998, New York: Saint Martin’s Press

An informative, personal account of Korea and the Korean people today.

The Koreas
The Koreas
By: Connor, Mary, ed
2009, ABC-CLIO Publishers

This source is one of the most complete, accessible, and up-to-date resources available on both North Korea and South Korea. The audience for this book is high school and undergraduate students and their instructors. The Koreas reveals how much life on the Korean peninsula has rapidly changed in recent years. With a team of scholars comparing life in authoritarian North Korea and democratic South Korea, the reference book presents an authoritative and unprecedented look at the contrast and similarities of the two nation’s histories, geographies, politics, cultures, and societies. Cultural contents include explorations of Korean literature, music, arts, language, cuisine, etiquette, and the “Korean Wave.” Available on Amazon.com

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History
The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History
By: Oberdorfer, Don

Don Oberdofer, former Northeast Asian and diplomatic correspondent of the WashingtonPost, writes what is regarded as one of the best and most gripping narratives of Korean history from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. He draws upon his personal contact with top Korean leaders over four decades, investigative reporting skills and thorough academic research to achieve a very exciting and balanced narrative of a tragically divided country. One of the most memorable accounts relates to how close the United States actually came to war with North Korea during the Clinton administration.

Women of Korea: A History from Ancient Times to 1945
Women of Korea: A History from Ancient Times to 1945
By: Kim, Yung-Chung, ed.
1976, Seoul: Ehwa Womans University Press

This is one of the most thorough studies to date of the status, role, and activities of Korean women through the country’s long history.