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BEST Korean History Books You Must Read

There are countless Korean History courses, tutorials, articles available online, but for some, having a book is still a necessity to learn. This is an up-to-date list of recommended books.

1. Korean History in Maps: From Prehistory to the Twenty-First Century (2014)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadKorean History in Maps is a beautifully presented, full-color atlas covering all periods of Korean history from prehistoric times to the present day. It is the first atlas of its kind to be specifically designed for students in English-speaking countries. There is a map for each era in Korean history, showing every major kingdom or polity that existed on the Korean peninsula, and maps are also included for topics of additional historical interest, including each major war that took place. In addition, the atlas contains chronologies, lists of monarchs, and overviews of the politics, economy, society, and…
Author(s): Lee Injae , Owen Miller, et al.

2. A History of Korea (Macmillan Essential Histories) (2016)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadPresenting the richness of Korean civilization from early state formation to the jarring transformations resulting in two distinctive trajectories of modern development, this book introduces the country’s major historical events, patterns, and debates. Organised both chronologically and thematically, it explore recurring themes such as Korean identity, external influence, and family and gender. This lively narrative assumes no prior knowledge, inviting readers to appreciate both the distinctiveness and universality of Korean history, while integrating it into East Asian…
Author(s): Kyung Moon Hwang

3. A Concise History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present (2016)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadNow in a fully revised and updated edition, this comprehensive book surveys Korean history from Neolithic times to the present. Michael J. Seth explores the origins and development of Korean society, politics, and still little-known cultural heritage from their inception to the two Korean states of today. Telling the remarkable story of the origins and evolution of a society that borrowed and adopted from abroad, Seth describes how various tribal peoples in the peninsula came together to form one of the world’s most distinctive communities. He…
Author(s): Michael J. Seth

4. Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. 1: From Early Times Through the 16th Century (Introduction to Asian Civilizations) (1996)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadDrawn from Peter H. Lee’s Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Volume I, this abridged introductory collection offers students and general readers primary readings in the social, intellectual, and religious traditions of Korea from ancient times through the sixteenth century. Sources of Korean Tradition is arranged according to the major epochs of Korean history, including sections on: Korean culture – its origins, writing, education, poetry, song, social life, and rituals; religion – the rise of Buddhism and Confucianism; the economy – the land, agriculture, commerce, and currency; and its changing…
Author(s): Peter H. Lee, Wm. Theodore de Bary, et al.

5. Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) (2017)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must Read“There could only be a few winners, and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones.” In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that…
Author(s): Min Jin Lee

6. The Korean War: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) (2011)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadA BRACING ACCOUNT OF A WAR THAT IS EITHER MISUNDERSTOOD, FORGOTTEN, OR WILLFULLY IGNORED For Americans, it was a discrete conflict lasting from 1950 to 1953. But for the Asian world the Korean War was a generations-long struggle that still haunts contemporary events. With access to new evidence and secret materials from both here and abroad, including an archive of captured North Korean documents, Bruce Cumings reveals the war as it was actually fought. He describes its origin as a civil war, preordained long before the first shots were fired in June 1950 by lingering fury over Japan’s…
Author(s): Bruce Cumings

7. The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture (2014)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadA FRESH, FUNNY, UP-CLOSE LOOK AT HOW SOUTH KOREA REMADE ITSELF AS THE WORLD’S POP CULTURE POWERHOUSE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURYBy now, everyone in the world knows the song “Gangnam Style” and Psy, an instantly recognizable star. But the song’s international popularity is no passing fad. “Gangnam Style” is only one tool in South Korea’s extraordinarily elaborate and effective strategy to become a major world superpower by first becoming the world’s number one pop culture exporter.As a child, Euny Hong moved from America to the Gangnam neighbourhood in Seoul. She was a witness…
Author(s): Euny Hong

8. Korea: The Impossible Country: South Korea’s Amazing Rise from the Ashes: The Inside Story of an Economic, Political and Cultural Phenomenon (Revised & Expanded) (2018)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must Read“Daniel Tudor covers all the important issues, yet does not simply tell the more familiar stories, but looks deeper and wider to give the full story of Korea today.” In just fifty years, South Korea has transformed itself from a failed state, ruined and partitioned by war and decades of colonial rule, into an economic powerhouse and a democracy that serves as a model for other countries. How was it able to achieve this with no natural resources and a tradition of authoritarian rule? Who are the Koreans and how did they accomplish this second Asian miracle? Through a…
Author(s): Daniel Tudor

9. Korean Americans: A Concise History (2019)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadKorean Americans: A Concise History tells the untold stories of the pioneering immigrants, the newly discovered tale of the first Koreatown USA, and about the first Korean aviator. The textbook conveys the Korean American experience by highlighting important moments, people, and incidents that defines this small community. The book takes readers on a journey starting with the beginning of Korean immigration to the United States, to present day issues, trends, and identity….
Author(s): Edward T. Chang

10. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (2001)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadSelected for the 2019 Commandant's Professional Reading List  Updated with maps, photographs, and battlefield diagrams, this special fiftieth anniversary edition of the classic history of the Korean War is a dramatic and hard-hitting account of the conflict written from the perspective of those who fought it. Partly drawn from official records, operations journals, and histories, it is based largely on the compelling personal narratives of the small-unit commanders and their troops. Unlike any other work on the Korean War, it provides both a clear panoramic overview and a sharply drawn "you were…
Author(s): T.R. Fehrenbach

11. The Girl with Seven Names (2016)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERAn extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had…
Author(s): Hyeonseo Lee, David John

12. A History of Korea (Palgrave Essential Histories) (2010)

 BEST Korean History Books You Must ReadA concise, lively history of Korea, which explores the richness of Korean civilization from the ancient era through to the jarring transformation that resulted in two distinctive trajectories through the modern world. Chapters flow both chronologically and thematically, covering themes such as identity, gender and family.  …
Author(s): Kyung Hwang

Best Korean History Books You Must Read

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some korean history books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History

Author(s): Monica Kim
ID: 2343787, Publisher: Princeton University Press, Year: 2019, Size: 15 Mb, Format: epub

Agriculture and Korean Economic History: Concise Farming Talk (Nongsa chiksǒl)

Author(s): Seong Ho Jun
ID: 2472617, Publisher: Springer Singapore;Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2019, Size: 17 Mb, Format: pdf

Reencounters: On the Korean War and Diasporic Memory Critique

Author(s): Crystal Mun-hye Baik
ID: 2500992, Publisher: Temple University Press, Year: 2019, Size: 8 Mb, Format: pdf

Please note that this booklist is not final. Some books are really record-breakers according to The Wall Street Journal, others are composed by unknown writers. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant books you could recommend? Leave a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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