Korea has a long, riveting history—it is also a divided nation. South Korea is a vibrant democracy, the tenth largest economy, and is home to a world-renowned culture. North Korea is ruled by the most authoritarian regime in the world, a poor country in a rich region, and is best known for the cult of personality surrounding the ruling Kim family. But both Koreas share a unique common history.
Victor Cha and Ramon Pacheco Pardo draw on decades of research to explore the history of modern Korea, from the late nineteenth century, Japanese occupation, and Cold War division to the present day. A small country caught amongst the world’s largest powers—including China, Japan, Russia, and the United States—Korea’s fate has been closely connected to its geography and the strength of its leadership and society. This comprehensive history sheds light on the evolving identities of the two Koreas, explaining the sharp differences between North and South, and prospects for unification.
Professor Victor D. Cha is Distinguished University Professor, D.S. Song-KF Chairholder, and Professor of Government in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is also Senior Vice President for Asia and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author of seven books, including the award-winning Alignment Despite Antagonism: The United States-Korea-Japan Security Triangle (Stanford University Press, 1999) (winner of the 2000 Ohira Book Prize), and The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future (Harper Collins Ecco, 2012 selected by Foreign Affairs as a “Best Book on the Asia-Pacific for 2012.” His most recent book is Korea: A New History of South and North (Yale University Press, 2023) with Ramon Pacheco Pardo. His other books are Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia (Columbia University Press, 2009); Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies (Columbia University Press, 2003) with David Kang; and Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia (Princeton University Press, 2016). His forthcoming book is The Black Box: Methods and Data in the Study of Korean Unification and North Korea (Columbia University Press, 2024). His articles on international relations and Asian affairs have appeared in numerous journals including International Security, Political Science Quarterly, International Studies Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, Foreign Affairs, Asian Survey, Journal of Asian Studies, International Journal of the History of Sport, and Journal of Strategic Studies.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo is Professor of International Relations at King’s College London and the KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Brussels School of Governance of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is also King’s Regional Envoy for East and South East Asia, helping to shape and implement the university’s strategy for the region.Prof Pacheco Pardo is also Adjunct Fellow (Non-Resident) with the Korea Chair at CSIS, Non-Resident Fellow with Sejong Institute, Scientific Council Member at Elcano Royal Institute and Committee Member at CSCAP EU. He has held visiting positions at Korea University, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Melbourne University.