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234 × 156 × 22 mm
320 pages
35 illustrations
01 Jul 2007
  • £19.95

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Everlasting Flower A History of Korea Keith Pratt

South Korea – a democratic high-tech Asian Tiger and flamboyant host of the 2002 World Cup; North Korea – a secretive dictatorship on Bush’s notorious ‘axis of evil’, with a controversial nuclear program and a poverty-stricken population. These two Koreas seem worlds apart, separated along the 38th parallel by the last active ‘cold war’ frontier. But North and South Korea share a common history and culture of which both are deeply proud; the poignant scenes of reunited families when the borders were opened in 2000 show that, even though frustrated, the links between the two populations remain strong.

Keith Pratt tells the story of this common heritage from the ancient states of Old Choson and Wiman Choson to the present relics of Cold War politics. He describes the physical and cultural landscape in which this history unfolds, dealing with religious identities and social aspects like food and drink, as well as more controversial issues such as punishment and torture, and the ‘comfort women’ of the Japanese occupation. In a series of short picture essays he introduces particular aspects of Korea’s past, including the world’s oldest observatory and the country’s famous turtle boats. Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea reveals a country which, although sandwiched between the more familiar worlds of China and Japan, has a distinct and rich cultural identity of its own.

With the DPRK’s precarious relationship with the outside world brought to increasingly frequent crises in the aftermath of 9/11, the Korean peninsular looks certain to remain a geopolitical hotspot. The importance of understanding this part of the world has never been greater.

‘[a] full and fascinating study of Korean history’ — The Guardian

Everlasting Flower is significant because for the first time there is a single book which surveys the whole cultural history of Korea, showing Koreas development within the Chinese cultural world, and demonstrating how the civilization of the peninsula changed under the impact of western and Japanese cultural influences in the twentieth century . . . Pratt brings a comparative perspective to his discussion of Korean history which gives the book a breadth often missing in other works.’ — History

‘A very solidly researched, well-balanced and enjoyable read peppered with glimpses of wit and personal observation. It will be a valuable introduction to Korean history for undergraduates, non-academics and more specialist readers alike and one that will hopefully inspire further reading.’ — Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

‘. . . highly readable, well organised study of Korean history from earliest times to the present day.’ — Asian Studies Review

‘This book provides an informative and comprehensive coverage of the history of Korea from the prehistorical era to the present . . . What distinguishes this book from other general histories of Korea is its thorough and meticulous survey of Korean cultural history . . . The author does a superb job in analyzing the factors behind changes in Korean culture, in presenting Koreas cultural accomplishments, and assessing its often underestimated or even neglected contributions to the East Asian tradition. Experts as well as non-experts will find interesting and insightful knowledge of Korea and East Asia . . . an excellent choice as a textbook for college level classes . . . and a wonderful companion for Korea-bound travellers’ — Canadian Journal of History

Everlasting Flower represents a step forward in the historiography of modern Korea’ — Donald Clarke, Professor of History, Trinity University, Texas

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Keith Pratt is Professor Emeritus at the Department of East Asian Studies at Durham University. He is author of numerous books and articles about Korea including, with Richard Rutt, Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary (1999).

Maps:  Early Kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula
             Modern Korea
Chronology of Korean History
I.  The Creation of State Identity
1.  From Earliest Times to AD 668:  Cultural Patterns in Flux
2.  Unified Silla, AD 668-936:  The Building of Confidence
3.  Koryo, 918-1392:  The Struggle for Independence
4.  Early to Mid-Choson, 1392-1800:  The Search for an Acceptable Orthodoxy
II.  A Century of Insecurity
5.  The Hermit Kingdom, 1800-64:  Tradition at Work
6.  Incursion, Modernization and Reform, 1864-1905:  Tradition at Bay
III.  A Century of Suffering
7.  Culture under Threat, 1905-45:  The Colonial Era
8.  Partition and War, 1945-53:  Return to Disunity
9.  Post-War Korea:  Tradition and Change
Sources and Further Reading