The Methodology

For each Korea-related book I read, I provide a brief review and a star rating. The star rating is based on the following scale:
  • 5 stars:  An essential reading that deserves a serious consideration for the Reading List.
  • 4 stars:  Very good reading that is insightful and educational. May be considered for the lower categories for the Reading List.
  • 3 stars:  Average reading that is worth the time invested.
  • 2 stars:  Sub-par reading, but with certain redeeming value.
  • 1 star:  A waste of time.
While I would recommend reading everything that has 4 stars or more, I limited the Reading List to ten books, with several sub-categories of the Reading List to five books per category. This is a deliberate choice to make the Reading List a practical suggestion, rather than an unwieldy list that would intimidate the reader before she even begins.

In hopes that the review will reach an audience wider than those visiting this blog, I will also post the review on, to the extent the book is available there.

The Reading List will have several quirks:
  • The Reading List will only contain books. That is to say, no publications, no magazine or newspaper articles, no scholarly articles, no op-ed or blog posts.
  • The Reading List will only contain non-fiction. For Korean literature such as novels, poems and plays, I suggest visiting Korean Modern Literature in Translation.
  • The Reading List will only have books that focuses on Korea proper. That is to say, no book primarily regarding world history or East Asian history; no book primarily dealing with Korean Americans, etc.
There are two Reading Lists -- books in both English and Korean, and books in English only. Because of relative dearth on Korea-related material in English, it is essential to read Korean-language books if one is seriously studying Korea. However, because of the reality that one cannot pick up a foreign language quickly enough to read a book, I provide two Reading Lists.