A Brief History of Korea: Isolation, War, Despotism and Revival: The Fascinating Story of a Resilient But Divided People

Michael J. Seth (Author)


Exploring Korean history from its ancient roots to the present day, A Brief History of Korea is the story of a people with a rich and united culture that has become two Koreas in modern times--one isolated and secretive and the other among the world's most successful economies. Korean culture developed on a 600-mile-long peninsula, bordered on the north by mountains and three sides by the sea, set apart from the Asian mainland.

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.

Product Details

$15.99  $14.71
Tuttle Publishing
Publish Date
December 03, 2019
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About the Author

Michael J. Seth has been a Professor of world history at James Madison University for more than 20 years. He worked and taught English in Korea for many years before receiving his Ph.D. in East Asian History from the University of Hawaii. He has authored several books on Korean history including A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present, A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present, A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic to the Nineteenth Century and Education Fever: Politics, Society and the Pursuit of Schooling in South Korea.


"Michael Seth has written a compact and concise but informative and invigorating book on Korean history. A Brief History of Korea is a welcome and welcoming port of entry." --John Lie, C.K. Cho Professor, University of California, Berkeley
"A highly readable and enjoyable book that will serve as an excellent way in to Korean history for anyone with an interest in the country." --Daniel Tudor, Author of Korea: The Impossible Country and North Korea Confidential
"If you need get caught up on Korean history in a hurry Michael J. Seth's A Brief History of Korea is the book that you should read. It is an informative, accessible, and gracefully written account of Korea's past from its mythical origins to the present. No other book on Korea covers so much ground so succinctly and with such erudition." --Gregg Andrew Brazinsky, Professor of History and International Affairs & ESIA Asian Studies Program Director, The George Washington University
"Michael Seth does a magnificent job of synthesizing the long history of the Korean peninsula into a manageable, clear and fully informative historical narrative. Historical events and occurrences from the pre-modern to the modern period are masterfully covered and carefully introduce readers to all of the exciting aspects of Korea. Like his other writings, this book is accessible to anyone and leaves you with a desire to read and learn more about the long history of Korea." -- Albert L. Park, Associate Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies
"...a resource written with the expertise of a scholar, yet thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds...a 'must-have' for public and college library World History collections. Highly recommended." -- Midwest Book Review