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Synopsis

This comprehensive and balanced history of modern Korea explores the social, economic, and political issues it has faced since being catapulted into the wider world at the end of the nineteenth century. Placing this formerly insular society in a global context, Michael J. Seth describes how this ancient, culturally and ethnically homogeneous society first fell victim to Japanese imperialist expansionism, and then was arbitrarily divided in half after World War II. Seth traces the postwar paths of the two Koreas—with different political and social systems and different geopolitical orientations—as they evolved into sharply contrasting societies. Considering the radically different trajectories of North and South Korea, Seth assesses the insights they offer for understanding modern Korea in global perspective.

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