Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea/Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea/Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992

Article excerpt

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea by Sheila Miyosh i Jager. Norton, 2013, 608 pp. $35.00.

Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992 by charles k. armst rong. Cornell University Press, 2013, 328 pp. $35.00.

Jager's magisterial history of the Korean War incorporates all the latest research, material from newly opened archives, and lots of photographs. It covers the international context, the war on the ground, and controversies over germ warfare and prisoners of war. Although the story of atrocities committed by North Korean and Chinese troops has been told many times before, Jager gives equal attention to lesser-known atrocities perpetrated by U.S. and other allied troops and even by South Korean troops against their own people. She argues that the bitterness of the conflict helped harden Cold War antagonisms in Asia. The war was interrupted by an armistice in 1953 but has not formally ended. The second half of the book traces the history of North-South competition for the "mantle of Korean legitimacy" up to the present. After starting out in the weaker position, South Korea seems to have won the struggle, leading Jager to wonder whether North Korea's only way out is to become an economic dependent of China-specifically, a virtual "fourth province" of northeastern China. …

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