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Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles (2005)

Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles (2005)

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3.48 of 5 Votes: 2
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0060750448 (ISBN13: 9780060750442)
harper perennial

About book Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles (2005)

the author of Krakatoa (2003) and The Professor and the Madman (1998) in 1988 took a walking tour of South Korea, and his book about it has been read 350 times.or at least, 350 Goodreaders have chosen to rate his if we ignore this deliberately facetious opening, we might say that Simon Winchester is just about as well known as Alan Booth, another Englishman who refused proferred car-rides and buses to walk the length of a country. Booth traveled 4000 kilometers from north Hokkaido to south Kyushu, but, in the weird way things work, apparently he's just about as read as Simon Winchester. Winchester has gone on to read more; authors, once they put out a best-seller, find their back catalogue hunted down; Booth went on to inspire Will Ferguson; Japanologists know of Booth, hikers have sometimes heard of Booth, Simon Winchester is a name. His name appears larger on books than the title of the book.(deep breath)this is a miserable book in one sense. following, consciously, in the footsteps of shipwrecked Dutch mariners of the 18th century (Sparrowhawk/crashed in Cheju-do, an island off the south coast of Korea), as well as Victorian hysteric and lady traveler Isabella Bird, Winchester, sufficiently Sinophilic as to write three China books, almost manages to make something out of nothing. the patheticness of this work is sort of like the pathos of the recently teenage-boy thriller Pacific Rim: the setting is Korea, but there's scarce Korean to talk about. to some degree some of this is historical and economic--South Korea, in 1988, is just the right-wing repressive government, the yellow-and-black police roadblocks, and the heavy US military presence that drowns out any other cultural or social activity. unlike Japan at the exact same time, there isn't, unfortunately, much to cover. and so Winchester is left to seek out US military officers to speak to, when not exploring how being the only British subject in three hundred kilometers means that English teachers in distant provinces sometimes know their consul-general by a period piece, as a predecessor work to year 2000 examinations of a more economically vibrant and culturally-exporting entity, as a walking journal, this book as worth. the writing is tight; Winchester is well-read, and he doesn't shy away from criticism where criticism is due. and if Alan Booth retreated to ever greater and greater solitude to eventually pass from the earth, Winchester went on to greater and greater heights, and is a non-fiction phenom.4/5 travel piece, bearing simliarities to Roads to Sata and drawing on the Isabella Bird tradition. an Englishman in the Chosen Kingdom, some twenty years before political, cultural, and economic liberalisation.

A good introduction book to 1980's Korea. The author nicely tied his journey with explanation of Korea's history. Before I read this book, I've never heard of Kwangju massacre or the genius Admiral Yi or the civil wars and the dictatorship in South Korea. The people was very interesting; Hyundai have got this cradle to grave motto, where its employers were taken care by the company almost literally from cradle to grave. I also never knew that Koreans (at that time) weren't allowed to go overseas, so the most overseas that Korean honeymooners could have was the Cheju island. No wonder it's very popular among the Koreans.The reason I only gave three stars to such a good book was mainly the author himself. I wish I didn't have to read about his sexual adventures with the Korean women or about the American soldiers whoring about (it's obvious why most Koreans dislike Americans then), frankly it was obnoxious and repulsive. He also often called the places and buildings 'ugly' and complained about the food, really, not a gentleman at all.P.S. I already have Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea on my list but nothing on South Korea, so does anyone know a good book about the rise of modern South Korea or about the present South Korea?

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Korea documents the author's walk across South Korea that retraced the route of seventeenth-century explorer Hendrick Hamel. Hamel wrote a book of his travels in the land of "Corea" that brought this mysterious land to the attention of Europe.The trick of detachment while remaining involved in the story is something that eluded the author at this point, but the stories in this book are of a more personal nature than the historical narratives in later volumes. Despite the fact that he doesn't flat-out say it, Mr. Winchester obviously loves Korea and found most of the Koreans he met fascinating.Comparisons to other places Winchester has been are inevitable in a travel book. I was fascinated to see, however, that as the book Continues, the author is more likely to compare Korea with another facet of the country, rather than, say, Shanghai or Tokyo or Dublin.Before writing the masterful volumes Krakatoa, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and The Professor and the Madman, geologist-writer Simon Winchester generated a series of travel books. I read this book out of a curiosity to see where one of my favorite authors started out, and was pleasantly surprised to find it quite well-written and educational.
—Neil Fein

Once when I became very ill in the Peace Corps, the Medical Officer handed me Winchester's Krakatoa, and ever since I have been a huge fan of his writing. While living in Korea, I happened across this book about his walk from the South to the North in the 1980s. While it took some getting used to recognizing the old Romanization of names (he apologizes beforehand, and obviously it's not his fault), I learned so much about the peninsula's history- perhaps more so than I have learned living in the countryside for a year and a half! One complaint was that he seemed to spend a lot of time with other foreigners (although it seems as most of us expats do the same). Obviously it's just one man's experience and was seen through a filter and presented to him as a foreigner (he does mention that even parts of his books are sugar-coated due to the nature of the times). One fact I noticed was that he mentioned Korea is the only country to celebrate its alphabet, which I know to be untrue! There is also an Alphabet Day to celebrate Cyrillic in Bulgaria (and an entirely separate day to celebrate its creators).All in all, I recommend it to expats living here or people who are interested in Korea.

So many layers of time and perspective exist within this book: what Korea was in the 1600's during Hendrick Hamel's quest, what it was in the late 1980's as Simon Winchester took his journey, and for me what the little part of Korea that I know is now in 2007-2008. Existence and life in Korea has the same affect as the book illustrates: a blending of the traditional, the modern, and the contemporary. Winchester uses intriguing and creative prose; I most enjoyed the portraits of people and landscape that he illustrated. At times though I found his voice to be a little bit too "male" and sometimes overwhelmingly sarcarstic. When he revealed his sexual appetite, and added it into the story-line, I was a little bit turned off as there didn't seem to be a place for it in this genre; it seemed inappropriate though not grotesque or graphic. This is a great book to read while living in Korea or if you know someone who has lived in Korea. If you're interested in the culture, I'd definately suggest it--you might even experience a little bit of wanderlust, which is always good.

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