For those with even a brief experience living in South Korea, there is one thing on which all will concur: they are a proud people. Proud of their food, their history and their culture, while imbued with an abundant sense of achievement regarding how far the country has progressed in such a short span of time.
That is not to say that this pride begets satisfaction. Most often, far from it. As collective narrators of the world’s most improbable tale of rags to riches, the Korean storyline remains irrevocably anchored to writing the next chapter; all the while crafting weighty expectations into the story arc of its characters that might better be called impossible rather than improbable.
It is from this point of view that Daniel Tudor writes his book, Korea: The Impossible Country. Though a fitting title for his prose, the idea for the book’s name first came about during an interview Tudor conducted with a former aid to the late dictator Park Chung-hee, who said back in the 1950s that, Korea was the poorest, most impossible country on the planet.
From there on, the title stuck.
A wide-ranging, Sunday-on-the-sofa read, Tudor’s book spans Korean history from its mythical founding by Dangun to the modern glitz of the world’s 15th-largest economy. He does so by means of personal insights, coupled with assorted interviews featuring Koreans ranging from Oldboy‘s Choi Min-sik to a Shaman priestess to the country’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon.
I recently had a chance to interview the interviewer and get some of his thoughts on life here on the peninsula.
Read the full interview at Branding in Asia
Photos courtesy of Daniel Tudor.