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South Korea

Korea Strait, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, East Sea, Korean War

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South Korea, country in northeastern Asia that occupies the southern portion of the Korea Peninsula; officially known as the Republic of Korea. South Korea is bounded on the north by North Korea; on the east by the East Sea (Sea of Japan); on the southeast and south by the Korea Strait, which separates it from Japan; and on the west by the Yellow Sea. The capital and largest city is Seoul.

The nation of South Korea was established in 1948 following the post-World War II partitioning of Korea between the occupying forces of the United States in the south and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the north. After the Korean War (1950-1953), South Korea rose from devastation to become one of the world’s largest economies in the 1990s.


For younger readers

Du Bois, Jill. Korea. 2nd ed. Marshall Cavendish, 1996. For readers in grades 6 to 9.

Jung, Sung-Hoon. South Korea. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Landau, Elaine. Korea. Children's Press, 1999, 2000. Information on both North and South Korea; for readers in grades 3 to 5.

McNair, Sylvia. Korea. Children's Press, 1993. For readers in grades 5 to 9.

Shepheard, Patricia. South Korea. Chelsea House, 1998. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Korean history and culture

Cumings, Bruce. Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History. Norton, 1997. Comprehensive, informative account of Korea over the last few centuries.

Hoare, James E., and Susan Pares. Conflict in Korea: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 1999. Provides solid coverage of all aspects of the Korean conflict, from 1945 to the present.

Nahm, Andrew C. Introduction to Korean History and Culture. Hollym, 1993, 1998. Excellent overview, with emphasis on the modern period.

Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History. Addison Wesley, 1997, 2001. Detailed, insightful history of North and South Korean politics: emphasis is on the last twenty years.

Portal, Jane. Korea: Art and Archaeology. Thames & Hudson, 2000. For the non-specialist, an informative introduction to Korea's cultural treasures.

South Korea

Amsden, Alice H. Asia's Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization. Oxford University Press, 1989, 1992. A description of rapid development through imposed performance standards.

Breen, Michael. The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies. St. Martin's, 1999. An in-depth portrait of a polarized people.

Clifford, Mark L. Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats and Generals in South Korea. Rev. ed. Sharpe, 1997. A political and economic history of South Korea since 1961.

Gibney, Frank. Korea's Quiet Revolution: From Garrison State to Democracy. Walker, 1992. The importance of a stable democracy for Korea.

Lie, John. Han Unbound: The Political Economy of South Korea. Stanford University Press, 2000. Considers South Korea's shift from a rural agrarian nation to a major industrialized player on the world stage.

Savada, Andrea Matles, and William Shaw, eds. South Korea: A Country Study. 4th ed. Library of Congress, 1992. Good general overview of South Korea.

Song, Byung-Nak. The Rise of the Korean Ecomomy. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 1997. The remarkable economic development of Korea in light of its history and culture, including interesting comparisons with Japan.


Peterson, Mark, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Korean Studies, Brigham Young University. Author of Korean Adoption and Inheritance: Case Studies in the Creation of a Classic Confucian Society and coeditor of Korean Women: View from the Inner Room. Former Executive Director, Korean-American Educational (Fulbright) Commission, Seoul, South Korea.

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Article key phrases:

Korea Strait, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, East Sea, Korean War, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, devastation, largest city, largest economies, North Korea, Republic of Korea, Seoul, capital, South Korea, United States, west, country

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