This is Korea: All you ever wanted to know about Korea by Choi Jung-wha & Lim Hyang-ok

Type: non-fiction

Page Count: 198

Received by: purchased at the Korean Folk Museum in Seoul

Started reading: 15 January 2011

Finished reading: 21 January 2011

Interest level: 7 – I’ve bought my fair share of books about Korea in the last year, but this is the first one written by Koreans.  The others were all written by outsiders, so they’d tell me things like, “Koreans like CyWorld!” or “Don’t write someone’s name in red because they do that only for the names of dead people!”  However, when I picked this book up last weekend, it actually told me WHAT CyWorld is and what Koreans do on it and how it works, and exactly HOW the names are written in red, and why, and everything else about funerals.  This book went farther than just telling me one factual statement about an entire cultural point – it let me bite into all the good juicy cultural meat that the other books only gave me an aroma of.

Ease of read: 8

Life changer: 4 – I actually (finally) know and understand some of the cultural history about the country I’m living in now.

Recommendation level: If you are in or interested in Korea, 9!  If not, I’d still recommend it as an interesting, easy, and quick read.

TTBR Synopsis: The book is broken into these parts:

  • Basic Facts about Korea
  • The Life of Koreans: a tug-of-war between Tradition and Modernity
  • A Glimpse of Korean Kitchen: from the Special Occasion to the Routine
  • A Guide for Armchair Travelers: Spots and Places
  • Korean Art: the Beauty of Simplicity
  • Meet Korea Today: Everything Changes Except Change Itself

and it gets very descriptive about practically everything you would want to know about Korea.  It isn’t telling you where to find a bank, how to buy an apartment, how to catch the train, or where to find jobs – unlike the other (travel) books I’ve purchased.  And that’s why I love it.  There are some spelling/grammar errors throughout, but it’s forgivable – especially since the last chapter ends with a very special tribute to a wonderful Korean passion: B-Boys.