The Shadow In The Sun

The Shadow In The Sun


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Description for THE SHADOW IN THE SUN by Michael Shapiro:

KOREA, THE WORLD'S FASTEST-GROWING INDUSTRIAL NATION, is to the 1990s what Japan was to the 1970s. In less than a generation Korea has moved from abject poverty to industrial might, from a nation whose main product was rice to one exporting computers, televisions, VCRs, ships, and cars. In THE SHADOW IN THE SUN, Michael Shapiro veteran journalist, explains with great skill and authority the political, social, and economic events that have mad Korea the crucible it is today, and why it is so important that Americans learn to understand this unique and passionate people.

In her informative introduction, former "New York Times" Tokyo Bureau Chief Susan Chira describes the events leading up to the remarkable spring of 1987, when the populace pressured the government of Chun Doo Hwan to allow the first open presidential election in sixteen years---and the first peaceful transfer of power in postwar Korean history. Chun, having already reneged on promised constitutional reform, also allowed the opposition party to win control of the National Assembly, thus forcing the ruling party to share power for the first time. Called The "Revolution of Rising Expectations," these reforms---which Shapiro explores in detail---transformed a police-state dictatorship into a budding democracy. THE SHADOW IN THE SUN used the events of this seminal year in the life of Korea to look into that nation's heart.

As South Korea enacts its precarious struggle for human rights and political freedom against a backdrop of uncertainty, it must craft a new, more liberal political system. And, Shapiro reminds us, Korea must face the explosive consequences of its meteoric economic development: the confusion over the breakdown of traditional values, the resentment over the gaps between rich and poor, and the anger of an exploited laboring class.

As Michael Shapiro says, "Being in Korea is like being locked in a room with a manic-depressive." Korea is ruled by the conflicting passions of bitterness and love. This bitterness, called han, is the result of past injustices, slights, and insults. Han does not fade. Its counterpart, Jong is contentment, the glue that holds this volatile society together. To understand hand and jong is to understand Korea.

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