Korea Briefing 1990

In This Review

Korea Briefing 1990

Edited by Chong-Sik Lee
Westview Press/New York: The Asia Society, 1991
175 pp. $35.85

Following on two other annual reviews published by The Asia Society on China and India, this is the first of an annual series on Korea, which meets the same high standards of the other two publications. Sung-Joo Han, a distinguished Korean political scientist, concludes his excellent chapter on South Korea's experiment with democracy by cautioning that the progress of democratic institution-building is slow, political parties are still unstable and politics remains volatile. Social anthropologist Vincent Brandt contrasts the "almost obsessive concern on the part of many articulate Koreans, particularly students and intellectuals, with all that they perceive to be wrong with contemporary life and institutions" with the impressions of a visitor: "crowds of cheerful, apparently prosperous people" and "plenty of buoyant good feeling." His provocative essay addresses the question of why things "look so good from the outside" and "so terrible from the inside." And he concludes that the apocalyptic view of many Korean intellectuals and other critics is unwarranted.

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