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Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Simon Winchester
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31. Mai 2005

In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea -- from its southern tip to the North Korean border -- in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.

Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.

With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester.


  • Taschenbuch: 336 Seiten
  • Verlag: Harper Perennial; Auflage: Reprint (31. Mai 2005)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0060750448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060750442
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 20,2 x 13,6 x 2,1 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 321.603 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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The author walked over 300 miles following the path described in the first account of Korea published in the West three centuries ago. In this account of the journey he describes a country richly varied which has made a startling economic recovery from war. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. In 2006, Mr. Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He lives in western Massachusetts.

In diesem Buch (Mehr dazu)
This story starts a very long way from Korea - indeed, very nearly halfway across the world from Hendrick Hamel's 'dangerous and difficult Kingdom'  on a gloomy, rainswept, industrial street in Newcastle upon Tyne. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fun to Read! 13. März 2009
Von Gerlinde
This is one of my favorite books from Simon Winchester. The diary of his walk across South Korea is so inspiring that I have decided to do the same!
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Von Michael
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I was very relieved to read that Kwan Yon decided to travel through South Korea after reading this book. Actually, I thought the book wasn't anywhere near the qualities all the other books by S. Winchester had.
I'd warmly recommend as some of my all-time favourites Krakatoa, The Man Who Loved China (!) and The River at the Centre of the World to anybody interested in Asia. But this one book on Mr. Winchester's traveling around Korea is just superficial and drawing on stupid stereotypes. Not that it pretended to be as well-researched as all the other books I know, but even as a mere travel report it stands out very far and low from the high level I appreciate so much in his other books.
I really hope, nobody will be kept from reading his so much better books by having read this one.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 von 5 Sternen  30 Rezensionen
80 von 100 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen A Big Disappointment 8. Juni 2006
Von T. Hooper - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I picked up this book hoping to get some insight into Korean life, culture, and customs. The subtitle--"A Walk Through the Land of Miracles" was also very appealing. However, Winchester should have subtitled this book--"Why I Hate Korea". His condescending attitude drips off of every word.

The first problem with this book is that for a book that is supposed to be about Korea, he spends an awful lot of time with foreigners in Korea. In fact, you'll learn more about Irish missionaries and American soldiers than you will about Koreans. I would say that about 50 percent of the people he encounters in this book are not Korean. To make matters worse, the Koreans he does encounter are a weird lot (probably due to the fact that he is hanging around American bases rather than where descent family people would go). Of the Koreans he encounters, nearly half of them are prostitutes. From Winchester's account, you might believe that Korea is crawling with prostitutes. This is surprising due to the fact that Korea is a quite conservative country. My only guess is that Mr. Winchester went out of his way looking for prostitutes. So, instead of the land of miracles promised in the subtitle, you get the land of seedy red light districts.

As if this weren't bad enough, Mr. Winchester has a very sexist attitude. Of the Korean women he met that weren't prostitutes, he always adds the adjective pretty or attractive, as if he were sizing up every woman he met for a romantic encounter. In fact, he tells us that many of them threw themselves upon him. Well, good for him, but I don't want to waste my time on reading about it. None of the Koreans he mentions seem to have any personality (as described by Winchester). There's no sense that he is meeting actual people.

The final thing that I found really unpleasant was the way he kept belittling Korean customs and culture, and in the same breath complains about the loss of traditional Korean culture. In one sentence, he trumpets the glories of Kendal Mint Cakes and derides kimchi as a stink that makes him sick. He complains about sleeping on the floor, yet he'll shed tears when he sees a modern bed. He even complains that in the country-side people have electricy and TVs, as if he expected Korea to be preserved as a medieval theme park for his viewing pleasure.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Don't bother with this horrible book. You can find better.
43 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen An arrogant westerner's view of Korea 11. September 2005
Von Tintin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This book details the author's walking tour in South Korea in the late 80's. Though tidbits of interesting historical and cultural facts are included, they were written in a disorganized and anecdotal manner. Occasionally careless statements about the Koreans and Asians were made, clearly with exaggeration or overgeneralization.

Though the author said he loved Korea, what stands out page after page is the superiority complex he displayed for the land and the people. He mocked their age-old customs and current undertakings and gave proud accounts of his own bad behavior during his travel. The air of arrogance and condescension exudes from every single line. I am not a Korean, but even I am offended. The author obviously fails to understand that not everybody regards Kendal Mint Cake the best thing since sliced bread.
51 von 67 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen See Kim Here, See Kim There 15. Dezember 2004
Von Arktos - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Before reading this book, my understanding of Korea was as hazy as a foggy day in Seoul. Korea? Didn't they host the Olympics a few years back? And I think there was a messy war in the fifties that led to partition; the South became prosperous; the North became weird. Oh, and don't they eat dogs? Well, now the fog has cleared, and it's all thanks to Simon Winchester's absorbing and entertaining journey through this fascinating land. And yes, there are some references to canine cuisine, but more of that later.

The basis of the book is the author's decision to follow in the footsteps of a group of Dutch sailors who were shipwrecked off the Korean coast in 1633. And I really do mean in their footsteps: he walks all the way from the southern coast to the edge of the North Korean border (he would have gone further, but the American border guards threatened to break his legs). He describes the places and people along the way, but digresses to explain Korean history, culture, politics and language in a way that's far removed from the dusty old history book.

His journey begins on Cheju Island, off the southern coast, where thousands of Koreans go for their holidays. It's here that he meets Father Patrick McGlinchey (one of the McGlincheys of Cheju, presumably), who explains how a group of Irish missionaries raise sheep and knit Aran sweaters, which I think is an inventive way of converting folk to Christianity. They've been here since the 1950s and feel quite at home - apparently, if you screw up your eyes until they're almost closed, Cheju looks just like Connemara

Reaching the mainland, the author continues his trek, and finds drivers and bus passengers waving, smiling at him, offering him lifts, food and cans of fruit juice, just like they would in Glasgow. To us, the South Koreans would appear to be the most hospitable people on earth, but they themselves feel that Western influences are tainting their traditional ways. So much so that one observer expresses the view that, while North Korea is an ugly way to run a country, its people have retained their sense of respect for each other and resisted the Coca-Cola-nisation embraced by the South. Even so, the author's encounters with ordinary South Koreans are among the most charming and moving parts of his journey.

Inevitably, the subject of dog-eating raises its snout, and having sampled some, Winchester professes it to be "...very strong, very rich and with a background flavour of kidney". But it soon becomes clear that Koreans don't eat their four legged friends for any other reason than to improve their libido. In short, forget Viagra, try Fido.

For much the same reason, ginseng is big in Korea, but it also has huge cultural and economic importance. The author's visit to the town of Puyo offers the chance to see a factory where all the country's ginseng is made, processed and packed - and from where thousands of tons of the stuff are exported all over the world. The author's verdict on the taste of ginseng extract: "...the faintest hint of drying paint ...a freshly baked Victoria sponge cake, cooked in a pine wood on a spring afternoon...." Could be we've discovered the next Gilly Goolden.

In fact, it's this vivid turn of phrase that was one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much. The Korean desire to kill and eat almost anything that moves means that "...except for the odd weasel or mouse, Korean forest floors are like vast empty ballrooms, dark and quite silent." But, before you're provoked to send a strong memo to the Korean branch of Friends of the Earth, you should know that there is one part of the peninsula where wildlife is flourishing - and it's not where you would expect. Inside the Demilitarised Zone that separates North and South Korea, no shots may be fired, allowing animals like the Korean wildcat and the little Korean bear (awww!) to wander in safety, at least from human prey. As the author observes: "It is an ironic counterpoint to the awfulness of war that so much that is beautiful and rare flourishes where human anger is greatest, and yet in those places where peace has translated into commerce, so much loveliness has vanished clear away."

This book first appeared in 1988, and Simon Winchester ends his journey at the North Korean border. But the preface to the 2004 edition follows him as he eventually ventures into the frozen North. In some ways, this is the best part of all. The North Korean capital, he claims, is much easier to navigate than Seoul mainly because in Pyongyang "...there is nothing there." There's also a revolting encounter with a North Korean cappuccino whose foam on top turns out to be a whisked eggwhite.

From a standing start, I can now say my knowledge of Korea has increased by a hundred thousand per cent, and although I might never get there, this book was the next best thing to experiencing the heart and Seoul of Korea.

Who knew?

 Most Koreans have the surname of either Kim, Park or Lee, and engaged couples with the same surname must prove they are not from the same clan before being permitted to marry.

 Korean is linguistically closer to Hungarian or Finnish than it is to Chinese;

 Confusingly, the Korean word for yes is "nay"

 To Koreans, you're already 1 year old from the moment you're born - which means your 42-year old reviewer would be 43 (or 143, after a hard day at work).
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen An interesting read 23. November 2010
Von C. J. Thompson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This book is a bit rambling at times but, since Winchester's travelled through Korea on foot, perhaps that was somehow apt. I have seen several negative criticisms of what Winchester has to say and how he says it; too condescending, too sexist, too disorganized... too, whatever. Possibly these charges have some merit but it should be borne in mind that a score of people can visit the same place at the same time and will come away with a score of different impressions. Winchester has not especially held himself out to be offering an in-depth, comprehensive objective analysis of a nature and culture. Rather, he took a trip to see somewhere that interested him and he wrote about what he saw and what he thought about the things he saw. Certainly, his observations are colored by his own biases and expectations but I read the book making allowance for that and simply enjoyed getting a glimpse into a land and people about which I heretofore knew almost nothing. This book was an interesting read. I got what I paid for.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting, but higly biased 13. Juli 2011
Von Alex - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Usually i don't let others' book reviews influence my own thoughts about a book, but this time, I'm going to have to side with them. Although this book depicts the amazing countryside history and culture of Korea not seen by the average tourist, Winchester's writing tends to always be sexist towards women, constant rhetorical bashing of the "typical" American sloth (Pp. 71-75), and non stop bragging about how Englishman are "Gentleman"; yet he lives in Massachusetts?. Putting all the propaganda of Winchester's style aside, the book is an entertaining read, but I'm sure others have done better.
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