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Quo Vadis Korea: The Last Custodian of Confucianism and Its Atypical Transformation
Published by Academica Press
In the mid-20th century, Korea was dubbed the last custodian of Confucianism, but it is now very hard to call the country a truly Confucian society. This volume explores how some five decades of industrialization and modernization could ineluctably change the nation so fundamentally that their repercussions now sharply negate many basic principles of Confucianism in one way to another.
In the mid-20th century, Korea was dubbed the last custodian of Confucianism, but it is now very hard to even call the country a truly Confucian society. Following this argument, Quo Vadis Korea? explores critically how some five decades of breakneck industrialization and unbridled modernization could ineluctably change the nation so fundamentally that their repercussions now sharply negate many basic principles of Confucianism in one way to another. This study is a critical overview of the politico-economic as well as socio-cultural characteristics of modern Korea from a rather different perspective. It discusses why many key objectives of industrialization and economic development projects were not really delivered as they were initially promised to the nation. They all had, consequently, significant ramifications for the entire Korean society, the way it functions now, and its peculiar reactions to strangers both inside and outside the peninsula. Shaped largely by academic studies, constant observation, and personal experiences, this book is tantamount to a detailed survey of lengthy and protracted fieldwork in which the author explains with rare candid clarity an appreciable chasm between the Korea he knew before landing on the peninsula and the one he studied incessantly and practically as a detached investigator in the place. By engaging this book, many unbiased and unprejudiced readers would have to acknowledge that the modern Korea is not all about certain brands or economic statistics that we often hear, but there are also many other social and cultural developments which the modernity project has imposed, somewhat arbitrarily, upon the nation.
Reviewer: Caleb Simmons
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