In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

156KOREAN STUDIES, VOL. 21 early twentieth century, as evidenced by numerous fresh CD recordings of young performers, along with reissues on CD of recordings from the first half of the century. The revival coincides with an increasing maturity of Korean musicology and analysis—the field is open and stimulating. This book is entertaining, scholarly, up-to-date, and inspiring. Tragically , we cannot look forward to more of the same from Marshall himself, but we can hope that younger scholars will take careful notice of his work and carry the research forward from the strong position he has left us. Robert C. Provine University of Durham Korea: The Searchfor Sovereignty, by Geoff Simons. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995. 313 pp., 6 appendices. The foreword by Tony Benn, a forthrightly left-wing Labour Party member of Britain's Parliament, helps place this book in perspective. Surveying Korean history up to the nuclear crisis of 1994, it offers a sharp corrective to the prevailing views of this topic, which have generally favored the United States and the Republic of Korea and disfavored the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The new World Order, Benn writes, is a "coded message telling every nation in the world that America is now able to dictate to every other nation what it can and cannot do." This, however, "is not to endorse the lack of democracy in North Korea or to advocate the spread of nuclear weapons . . . [b]ut it is to warn those who get to read this book that the old American war machine that dominated Western policy from 1945 to 1990 is still at it, and we should think twice before we believe what we are told" (x). There is nothing wrong with this advice. But will those who do get to read the book and "think twice" actually adopt Simon's formulations? The arrogance and hypocrisy of the U.S. may explain a lot, but does this increase the appeal of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as potential rulers of a united Korea? On balance, the answer is no to both questions. Simons is at pains to expose the oversimplifications of the media image of the Kims as a "dynasty from hell." Unfortunately little new information is presented to dispel these images. Simon's eventual concession that "there are obvious dangers in concentrating power in the hands of one man over a period of decades" (235) reads as a woeful understatement, as does the admission of "evidence (though much of it tentative and necessarily congenial to Western propaganda) of purges, worker protests, student demonstrations, assassination attempts and food riots in North Korea" (236). Contemporary students of politics cannot afford to believe all that is rep- BOOK REVIEWS157 resented as news, but neither can they afford to disbelieve all, even manifest propaganda. Simons might well argue that some recent developments in South Korea provide further evidence of continuities with the "culture of its brutal past": the ongoing corruption scandals, the hard line taken toward student demonstrators sympathetic to the North, and upgraded security provisions in the wake of the submarine incursion from the North. The claim, though hard to refute, says nothing for claims to legitimacy made by the North, which can suppress a good deal more of the evidence regarding its version of this culture. In brief, this book offers little that is new besides an attitude of discontent with the received opinions of the pro-Western, pro-ROK variety. It is largely taken up with a historical overview covering traditional Korea, the Japanese period, the Korean War and so on, readable but dependent on widely available sources. The account of the 1994 crisis is clearly written and argued, but admirably skeptical accounts of the Clinton administration's handling of the crisis are not in fact all that hard to find. The ideal reader is probably the upper-level or graduate student who will benefit from a stubbornly independent perspective, but equipped with enough background to sort wheat from chaff. The inclusion of key texts like the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons among its six appendices makes the volume a viable acquisition for research libraries. David Kelly...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 156-157
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.