This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Korea. I discuss the rise, accomplishments, and fall of Korean kingdoms over 23 centuries – Old Choson (4th-1st centuries BCE), Paekche, Koguryo, and early Silla (3rd-7th centuries CE), later Silla (668-935), Koryo (918-1392), and Choson (1392-1910). I also examine Japanese colonialism (1910-1941), World War II (1941-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the contrasting paths taken by South and North Korea (1953-present). I wrote these lectures for a cruise in Japan and South Korea aboard The World, Residences at Sea in 2014.

 

           I first discuss how Korea was unified in the 7th century, how the Korean kingdoms created wealth, and how Japan colonized Korea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I next look at economic change under Japanese colonial rule, why Korea was partitioned at the 38th parallel, and why the Korean War was a stalemate. I then analyze South Korea’s economy – why it was stagnant in the 1950s, boomed between 1961 and 1997, and slowed after 1997. In contrast, I look at why North Korea’s economy first grew (1945-1975) and then shrunk (after 1975) and why and how North Korea developed nuclear weapons. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in South Korea.

Aboard the Caledonian Sky, Ulsan and Kyongju, Aboard The World, Busan, South Korea, Jeju Island, Incheon (Seoul), (DMZ),