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Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles
Winchester, Simon
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List Price: $15.99
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Format: Paperback, 298pp.
Date of publication: May 2005
Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN-13: 9780060750442
Dimensions: 20.32 cm. (length) X 13.46 cm. (width) X 2.03 cm. (thickness)
Weight: 250 grams
This book includes illustrations

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Author Note

Simon Winchester was a geologist at Oxford and worked in Africa and on offshore oil rigs before becoming a full-time globe-trotting foreign correspondent and writer. He currently lives on a small farm in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, an apartment in New York's West Village and in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Simon Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by HM The Queen in 2006. He received the honor in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

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About the Book
In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea — from its southern tip to the North Korean border — in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.

Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.

With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester. [Edit review] [Delete review]

From the Publisher

In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea -- from its southern tip to the North Korean border -- in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.

Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.

With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester.

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Excerpt
Chapter One
In the Seamen's Wake

The Kingdom known to us by the Name of Corea, and by the Natives call'd Tiozencouk, and sometimes Caoli, reaches from 34 to 44 Degrees of North Latitude, being about 150 Leagues in length from North to South, and about 75 in breadth from East to West. Therefore the Coresians represent it in the shape of a long square, like a playing Card. Nevertheless it has several Points of Land which run far out into the Sea.

It is divided into 8 provinces, containing 360 Cities and Towns, without reckoning the Forts and Castles, which are all on the Mountains. This Kingdom is very dangerous, and difficult for Strangers.

From The Description of The Kingdom of Corea, written in 1668 by Hendrick Hamel -- the first Western account of the 'Hermit Kingdom'

This story starts a very long way from Korea -- indeed, very nearly halfway across the world from Hendrick Hamel's 'dangerous and difficult Kingdom' -- on a... [More...] [Edit review] [Delete review]
Customer comments
This book a time machine by Anonymous (United States), 31 October 2005 18:39
I have read two other books by Simon Winchester, Krakatoa and The Professor and the Madman, both deeply interesting historical tales.  When I saw that he'd written a book on Korea, that he'd walked across the country in the steps of Hendrik Hamel and his fellow shipwrecked Dutchmen, I was very much eager to get my hands on a copy.  Now, at last, it has been reprinted.  The main pleasure I took from reading this book was to read about the Korea of twenty years ago and compare it to the Korea I have known for the past five years.  My, how different everything seems.  I've received lasting looks and endured cries of 'Monkey!', but I've yet to have a woman stick her hand down my shirt to feel my chest hair.  Winchester feels it his due to return the gesture to the women, something I can't imagine happening in today's Korea.  Other things I've yet to encounter are the Irish missionaries Winchester seems to meet around every corner.  And alas, my wife informs me that barbershops like the one where Winchester enjoys a lengthy massage are no longer to be found.  Educational for me was the chapter on the Kwangju massacre.  I had read a paragraph history here and there on the topic, but the book provided more details and also the thoughts of residents of Kwangju a few years after the shootings.  It's hard to believe that in the country I know such things happened and such a short time ago.  But therein lies the value of the book.  It's time travel for me.  To the Korea of my wife's youth.  A snapshot of Korea as it was, with clues as to what it would become.  A primary source, albeit from a deeply British viewpoint (Koreans speaking English and their ability described as 'execrable'--ouch!).  Despite some of the shortcomings--as the previous reviewer said, American soldiers get especially negative press--this book is definitely worth a read.  [Delete review]
Well done by Patrick Freuler (United States), 12 August 2005 07:41
Simon Winchester's treatment of Korea was for the most part, well balanced and honest. As an American speaker of English not accustomed to the British vocabulary, I had to slow my pace a bit to work through some terms not used in American English. This is not a critisism; just a note to Americans who will read this book. On the other hand, his style makes it fun to read.

Having spent almost three years in South Korea in the 70's, I found myself smiling as he shared some of his observations about Koreans and their ways. I also winced a bit when he told of his encounters with several Americans he met along the way, most who were military people. I too witnessed deliberate and narrow minded ignorance on the part of some of my fellow military members toward Korea and Koreans during my time there. To his credit, Mr. Winchester did comment that one Air Force officer he met at Kunsan AFB was an individual of above average intelligence who had a keener insight than most other military people he'd encountered.

The one item I have to take issue with, it was Mr. Winchester's treatment of U.S. policy in Korea and the American military presence there. He had virtually nothing positive to say about Americans or our presense there. He made one remark aluding to the American colonization of Korea, that did make me chuckle when I think back on the British Empire's former holdings, including the U.S.A.

He was critical of Koreans where they needed it, and offered praise where deserved it.

In the end, I believe he has a genuine affection for Korea and her people, and I can forgive his slight toward Americans. I share with him a sincere affection for Korea, as I'm sure most who read this book do also.

I recommend it. I learned much about Korea and Koreans that will be very useful in my upcoming trip there.    [Delete review]

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