The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

Synopsis

The struggle between the two Koreas has repeatedly claimed the headlines of the world in acts of terrorism and heroism, showdowns over nuclear weapons programs on both sides of the lines, the sudden deaths of leaders, and historic turning points in the relationship with the outside powers of Japan, Russia, and China. Don Oberdorfer lived through many of these crises as a journalist for the Washington Post. Building on his extensive experience, many previously unavailable documents, and unparalleled access to the leadership circles of the two Korean states and the great powers, he has written a gripping narrative history of Korea's travails and triumphs over the past quarter century. The involvement of the outside world- including a chilling account of the nuclear showdown that brought the United States perilously close to war with North Korea in 1994- receives extensive treatment and special emphasis. Korea represents the last vestige of the Cold War. The Two Koreas places that political tension within a historical context, looking at democratic South Korea and communist North Korea through the lens of the past twenty-five years. Oberdorfer's work is the definitive text of contemporary Korea.

Excerpt

We are now traveling the length of free Korea by troop train, from the southern tip, the port of Pusan, to almost the farthest point therefrom, Inchon on the northwest coast . . . Our first impressions, at Pusan, were miserable and pathetic. The dirtiest children I have ever seen anywhere evaded MPs around the train to beg from GIs. One boy crawled around the train on his only leg; what had been his left one was off at the thigh. When our train pulled out, several boys threw rocks at the train . . . Out of Pusan, however, the picture is better The Korean countryside is quite mountainous, with villages in the little stretches of valleys between the rugged, unadorned crags. The people in the villages till the soil and wash in the muddy water holes, and the children do God-knows-what. The line the sides of the railroad and shout, "hello, hello" at the troop train, hoping to be thrown cigarettes or candy or something of value.

-- FROM MY DIARY, August 11, 1953

This was my introduction to Korea as a U.S. Army lieutenant weeks after the armistice which ended the bloody three-year war on the peninsula, and the beginning of a lifelong interest in an embattled and amazing country. In my field artillery unit just south of the ceasefire line, we . . .

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