[KS] What's So Good about Korea, Maarten?

Maarten Meijer mpmeijer at gmail.com
Thu Jan 18 19:00:43 EST 2007

>        Dear Korean Studies list members,
>                           Some time ago, Hyeonamsa publishing company of
> Korea published my book "What's So Good about Korea, Maarten?" to critical
> acclaim (from the Korean media, that is). The book was published in both
> Korean and English editions. The book cover was an idea of the publisher; I
> could have settled for something more modest and professional-looking...
> Though the book does not fit the appellation "scholarly" in the narrow
> sense, I think it makes engaging reading and provides an interesting update
> on Korean life and culture. Below is a brief English-language synposis of
> the book.
> Currently, I am looking for a publisher/distributor in the US/Europe. If
> anyone would have any helpful suggestions on this topic, I would be very
> thankful.
> With best wishes,
> Maarten Meijer, PhD
> Cheongshim International Academy
> Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

What's So Good about Korea, Maarten?

In one generation, Korea changed from a poor country ravaged by war into the
world's twelfth largest economy. The two billion viewers of the 2002 World
Cup witnessed Korea's stellar football performance. In 2004, Korea stripped
the title "largest shipbuilding nation on earth" of Japan. Today, Americans
drive Hyundai SUVs and Europeans watch football on Samsung liquid crystal
television screens. Korea is the most "wired" country in the world – number
one in Internet broadband and cell phones use.

Where do Koreans get their drive, their energy? Who are they? Monks
meditating in lotus position before giant gold-leaf-covered Buddha statues?
Shamans exorcizing evil spirits from the ill? Christians who built the
largest single church in the world? Taoists in search of immortal life? What
is so unique about Korean families? Why is the divorce rate still low
compared with the West? Do Korean parents really "match" their children? Why
are Korean high school graduates at the top of the international list in
math and science skills? Why are Korean young people running to plastic
surgery clinics to get "double eyelids" – and, what are they? How is the
Asian "sexual revolution" affecting Korea? In this in-depth analysis
Dutchman Maarten Meijer answers these and other questions.

The book covers colorful Korean marriage ceremony, Confucian ancestral
rites, cutthroat competition for educational superiority, artistic
excellence in dance, drama, and music. It deals with international issues:
the North-South division, tensions with Japan over its former colonial
occupation of Korea, rising anti-Americanism among the young, and the
challenges involved in become "the hub of Asia" in a globalizing world.

There are dozens of short stories contributed by Koreans and non-Koreans
interviewed by the author: "Preference for boys," "Marriage made in heaven,"
"Fifty ways to meet your lover," "An American girl in Seoul," "Grandfather's
funeral," "Being black in Korea," "Dog meat soup," "The Korean soap opera"
are just some. These are set apart from the main narrative through
background shading and add perspective, drama, and humor to the book.
Twenty-eight photographs, most in color, provide additional illustrations of
Korean art and culture, social issues, the life of great and ordinary
Koreans, and the personal experiences with Korean society of the author, who
lives with his wife and four children Seoul.
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