Good Reads in Korea

Sami’s Choice: Two Koreas by Don Oberdorfer

This book offers a detailed and well documented history of the arbitrary division of the Korean Peninsula. The book contains a wealth of information and reads like a thriller. It describes the rocky road towards democracy in South Korea, the nonexistent road towards democracy in North Korea, the tensions among enemies and allies, the evolution of South Korea’s attitude towards conciliatory dialogue and unification, and the ability of the North’s thuggish regime to monetize on nuclear negotiations. Sami recommends this book to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding the dynamics of the North/South Korean division.

Steph’s Choice: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin

This is the best book I have read so far on our Journey and I highly recommend it. It’s a heartbreaking story about an aging mother who goes missing in the busiest subway station in Seoul. The story is written with a unique narrative, addressing her children and husband as ‘you’ throughout the book. Guilt ridden by how they have neglected the physical and mental state of their mother/wife, the family searches the city in order to bring her home. In doing so, they reflect on all the times they took their mother for granted and how truly special she was.

This book really resonated with me both as a mother and daughter but also gave an amazing insight into how rapidly Korean society has evolved in the second half of the twentieth century and what implications this has had for traditional family life.  Keep the tissue nearby – you will need it!

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Nu’s Choice: I Spy Little Numbers by Jean Marzollo

Korean’s take mathematics very seriously so Nu decided to get this book to brush up on his counting. We think he may be a numbers guy because this is his favorite book he has read so far. He made his own reading corner with a plush bathmat and would sit and read this book on his own all the time.

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