Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea by Keith Pratt

By Keith Pratt

There are starkly diverse Koreas which are both very important actors on today’s stressful geopolitical degree: South Korea, that is thriving as a democracy racing into the long run as a high-tech financial powerhouse, and North Korea, a repressive dictatorship governed by way of the iron dispositions of the precious chief. The dividing thirty eighth Parallel is a chilly warfare relic that mask the deep and binding cultural ties among them, and Keith Pratt tackles the following in Everlasting Flower the complexly intertwined historical past of the 2 nations. 

Everlasting Flower traverses the traditional actual and cultural panorama of the Koreas, spanning from the traditional states of previous Choson and Wiman Choson to the current day. Pratt unearths the wealthy origins of such cultural foundations as spiritual practices and foods and drinks, and he connects them to key ancient advancements of either countries. He additionally probes debatable historic occasions corresponding to the abuses—torture, punishment, and the “comfort women”—of the japanese profession. Concise and richly illustrated pictorial essays increase Pratt’s compelling narrative, chronicling a number of monuments of Korea’s prior, together with the world’s oldest observatory and the recognized turtle boats. 

An engrossing and provocative historical past of the 2 Koreas, Everlasting Flower is a vital learn of 2 countries which are swiftly rising from the shadows in their looming neighbors—China and Japan—and of one another in addition. because the Korean peninsula turns into an more and more very important geopolitical hotspot, Everlasting Flower deals a large point of view in this painfully divided country. (20060801)

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Without doubt the most famous Paekche tomb, and the most revealing single example of the value that Paekche placed on its overseas contacts, is that of King Muryo˘ng. Its rectangular vaulted chamber, lined with decorated bricks and entered through an arched access protected by a stone animal, had lain undisturbed from his burial in the eighth moon, , until it was excavated in . A stone inscription recorded the king’s entombment at the end of the -month mourning period, and that of his queen four years later.

When he died, his son Changsu had a memorial stele erected next to his tomb at Kungnaeso˘ng.  metres and weighed  tonnes, and on it , Chinese characters carved in yeso˘ script related the legend of Chumong and gave an account of the great king’s exploits. Despite its size, the stone was lost for many centuries. When it was rediscovered in the early s, a rubbing taken by a Japanese soldier was used as evidence to support the idea that Yamato had once colonized southern Korea. Examination of the stone today shows that the reference to Kwanggaet’o’s victory in   is indecipherable: some Koreans believe that it was deliberately defaced, perhaps during the colonial period.

Pragmatism and self-interest ruled, and warfare was frequent as alliances were made and broken with apparent disdain. Peasants struggling to farm the valleys through which armies marched and counter-marched, or local officials of towns called on to switch allegiance to their latest overlords, must sometimes have felt utter bewilderment, and may neither have known nor cared to which kingdom they belonged. Merchants up and down the peninsula struggled to keep their businesses going. To legitimize and strengthen their positions, tribal leaders propagated claims of supernatural elements in the foundation of their states, and claimed shamanistic powers for themselves to ward off natural disasters and boost harvests.

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