Korea is a fascinating country with a deep culture and long history. Business is not done in a vacuum, and this is especially true in Korea as culture and history play a role in how business is done. Learn more about Korean history through the links on this page.

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Free Members-Only Resources

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

“A Participant in Korean History”

with Dr. David Dolinger, witness of events in Gwangju in 1980 and Vice-President at Seegene, Inc. in Seoul, Korea

“Preserving Traditional Architecture in Korea”

with Peter Bartholomew, Vice President of IRC, Inc.

Top Information on Korea Business Central

North Korea Economic Slice

“The Progenitors of Chaebol”
By Stephen E. Ronto, Department of Business & Economics Chung-Ang University, Korea

Click here to read the KES article and to participate in our member discussion.

Top Legacy Discussions

The Last American Gold Miners in Korea
The Korean War: Impressions After Sixty Years
Seoul in Photos – 50 Years Ago (Then and Now)
Japan Rediscovers Its Korean Past
About Korea on YouTube

Exclusive Content on KBC:
Korea Photos – 1962

Websites about Korean History

Books and Other Special Resources


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Steven’s rating:

The Korean War: A History
by Bruce Cumings

Don’t let this be your first book about the Korean War as it’s basically a collection of disjointed essays meant to offend and inform anyone with mainstream views of the Korean War. But for those who’ve already read a book or two about the Korean War and would like to get fresh perspectives, this relatively short book is a must-read.


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Steven’s rating:

A New History of Korea
by Ki-baek Lee

An excellent translation to English of a Korean history classic that goes all the way back to pre-historical times. Though not a book for the masses, A New History of Korea is still easily accessible for those seriously interested in the topic.


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Steven’s rating:

The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea
Edited by Byung-Kook Kim and Ezra F. Vogel

This somewhat, but not wholly, sympathetic treatment of the Park Chung Hee regime thoroughly covers this era which still deeply influences Korean society today. If you want to know what happened in Korea between 1961 and 1979, read this book.


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Steven’s rating:

The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950
by Bill Sloan

The summer of 1970 was a wrenching time for UN forces in Korea. Though not nearly as interesting as the similarly named The Coldest Winter, this book competently covers information not found elsewhere.


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Steven’s rating:

The War in Korea: 1950-1953
by Wayne Vansant

This short Korean War comic is an easy read that covers the main points of the war. A good overview but it suffers from too many typos and is a bit dry.


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Steven’s rating:

Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History
by Bruce Cumings

No other book comes close to this authoritative survey by Cumings. The writing is a little heavy but if you want to understand modern Korean history and are willing to sit through 500 pages of solid information and insights from the leading scholar in Korean studies, this is the book for you.


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Steven’s rating:

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War
by David Halberstam

Nobody tells a better story than David Halberstem. Don’t expect to get much nuance from The Coldest Winter since each story is written with clear villains and heroes, but easily the most interesting book about the Korean War available.


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Steven’s rating:

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History
by Don Oberdorfer

Starting his narrative with the end of the Korean War, Oberdorfer takes the reader through the high points of Korean modern history, focusing mainly on politics. Easier to read than Cumings and without the fatal weaknesses of The Koreans (Breen), this is a good “next book” to tackle after finishing Korea’s Place in the Sun or if you want to focus only on the last 50 years or so.


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Steven’s rating:

Korea Unmasked: In Search of the Country, the Society and the People
by Won-bok Rhie

Learn about the Korean psyche and history from a Korean… and in pictures. Rhie is a leading Korean cartoonist and he covers the major points about Korea and Koreans for the lay reader. Read this along with a book written about Korea by a non-Korean and you’ll be rewarded with a deeper perspective.


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Steven’s rating:

The War for Korea, 1945-1950: A House Burning
by Allan R. Millett

The period between 1945 and 1950 was a time of festering conflict in Korea leading up to war and The War for Korea, 1945-1950 is an excellent in-depth study of this pivotal time. Millett is a military historian who covers his subjects thoroughly so be ready for a lot of minute details.

Steven’s rating:

Chemulpo to Songdo IBD: Korea’s International Gateway
by Don Southerton

Don Southerton

Chemulpo to Songdo IBD: Korea’s International Gateway showcases 125 years of commerce, trade, and interaction in the nation’s first foreign trade hub, Incheon. The bilingual work is author Don Southerton’s latest writing on Korea and weaves key historic events with photographs and first-hand accounts, past and present. Click here to read online for free


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Steven’s rating:

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why
by Richard E. Nisbett

This book seeks to explain the striking differences between Asian and Western thinking. Nisbett looks for the answers to questions such as why the Chinese never excelled at geometry, why Western infants learn nouns more rapidly than verbs and how Asians and Westerns have different ways of understanding objects and surroundings. Many of the lessons are applicable to understanding marketing theory across cultures.

Steven S. Bammel reviewed this book in two parts: Part I, Part II


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Steven’s rating:

Intrepid Americans: Bold Koreans – Early Korean Trade, Concessions, and Entrepreneurship
by Donald G. Southerton

Don Southerton

There’s very little being published today about Korea and the period around the turn of the 20th century. Don Southerton covers some interesting ground in all of his books. This one is strictly non-fiction, unlike others where he weaves fact with fiction to tell a story.


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A Yankee in the Land of the Morning Calm: A Historical Novel (Books 1 and 2)
by Donald G. Southerton

Don Southerton

Connecticut Yankee Josh Gillet longed for high adventure and travel. Leaving late nineteenth century New England for a sojourn in Japan, Josh soon finds himself in the Hermit Kingdom—Korea. These two fictional historical novels take the reader back to the late 1900s to share a part of Korean history that is not well known.


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Steven’s rating:

The Korean War
by Max Hastings

If you can only read one introduction to the Korean War and don’t want to spend too much time doing so, this is the one book to read. Hastings moves quickly and covers the whole war from beginning to end in a refreshing and interesting style that doesn’t grind axes.

Got a recommendation? Disagree with Steven’s review? Discuss these and other books about Korea and Korean business.