Korea is different and takes some getting used to, Daniel Tudor declares. Unless, for instance, your culinary tastes run toward silkworm larvae, a common fare offered by street vendors. Tudor doesn’t confess his personal opinion about the wormy appetizer, but his enthusiasm for Korea, specifically South Korea, is apparent. (North Korea gets only four pages, and those deal mainly with how difficult it is to be admitted to the communist country and the requisite hiring of a “handler.”)
The first impression, judging by a vivid array of pictures in the book, is that Korea is a partying place, with K-Pop music, video-gaming emporiums, and sumptuous restaurants. But it is, of course, much more than that. It is one of the most competitive societies in the world: Eighty percent of its youth graduate from college. There are 500,000 graduates a year for whom only 100,000 jobs await.
Korea is a high-tech powerhouse (think Samsung) with the fastest broadband service in the world. Religion is important, with an ancient grounding in Buddhism and Confucianism. There is a burgeoning Christian movement. Yoido Full Gospel Church operates like a franchise and has more than a million members in affiliate churches all over the country.
The Korean War gets only passing reference. The modern-day Korea is very much a democracy and as messy in its politics as the Western countries with which it competes.
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