Education About Asia: Online Archives

Bipolar Orders: The Two Koreas Since 1989

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Too often we fail to question conventional perspectives on the Koreas. In Bipolar Orders: The Two Koreas since 1989, Hyung Gu Lynn challenges us to examine whether reunification of North and South Korea is necessary or inevitable. The author explores how North and South Korea have developed diametrically opposed values and self-perceptions despite
their common heritage and racial identities, a condition he diagnoses as “bipolar orders.” His objective is to inform the reader of the existing polarization of the Koreas and what he calls the “decussation effect”—his term for the contradictory phenomena that, in spite of polarization, the relationship between South and North Korea has improved, while the relationship between South Korea and the United States has deteriorated. The renowned authority on Korean history, Harvard historian Carter J. Eckert, writes that Bipolar Orders is the one book he considers to be “a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in contemporary Korea, professional or layman alike.”