OVERRIDE

The Birth of Korean Cool

How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture

Euny Hong

Picador

A FRESH, FUNNY, UP-CLOSE LOOK AT HOW SOUTH KOREA REMADE ITSELF AS THE WORLD’S POP CULTURE POWERHOUSE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

By now, everyone in the world knows the song “Gangnam Style” and Psy, an instantly recognizable star. But the song’s international popularity is no passing fad. “Gangnam Style” is only one tool in South Korea’s extraordinarily elaborate and effective strategy to become a major world superpower by first becoming the world’s number one pop culture exporter.

As a child, Euny Hong moved from America to the Gangnam neighbourhood in Seoul. She was a witness to the most accelerated part of South Korea’s economic development, during which time it leapfrogged from third-world military dictatorship to first-world liberal democracy on the cutting edge of global technology.

Euny Hong recounts how South Korea vaulted itself into the twenty-first century, becoming a global leader in business, technology, education, and pop culture. Featuring lively, in-depth reporting and numerous interviews with Koreans working in all areas of government and society, The Birth of Korean Cool reveals how a really uncool country became cool, and how a nation that once banned miniskirts, long hair on men, and rock ‘n’ roll could come to mass produce boy bands, soap operas, and the world’s most important smart phone.

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1

BEFORE COOL

 

When my family moved to Korea, in 1985, it was still a developing country. The only mitigating factor was that we would be living not just in Gangnam but in the Apgujeong neighborhood—the most elite district—and in the Hyundai Apartments—the most elite residence. For us, it was rent-free, thrown in as part of my father’s hiring package. He was the beneficiary of a desperate plan by the Korean government to reverse the brain drain it suffered from the 1950s onward, following the Korean War. In those days, anyone with any gumption

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Birth of Korean Cool

"An insightful book…[Hong’s] brief chapter on Korea’s han against Japan is both the best and most concise explanation I’ve read of the two countries’ complicated and ancient feud."— Bloomberg Businessweek
"In her first book of nonfiction, Korean-American journalist Euny Hong playfully and insightfully dissects her native culture…there's much more to it than just ‘Gangnam Style.’"— Charleston City Paper

“A pleasing mix of Margaret Cho, Sarah Vowell and a pinch of Cory Doctorow.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Hong is a funny and uber-snarky observer and is as clever as clever can be...[As] laugh-out-loud funny and as spicy and memorable as the best homemade kimchi."—Library Journal

“Full of insight and shocking facts, The Birth Of Korean Cool is a hilarious, gutsy, eye-opening account of Korean drive and success. I couldn't put it down. Euny Hong is a force of nature.”—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of The Triple Package and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

“If you’re not fascinated by Korea yet, you damn well should be. The most innovative country on earth deserves a hilarious and poignant account on the order of Euny Hong’s The Birth of Korean Cool. Her phat beats got Gangnam Style and then some.”—Gary Shteyngart

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Euny Hong

  • Euny Hong is a journalist and author with international experience in web, print, and television news. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal Europe, International Herald Tribune, New Republic, Boston Globe, and The Forward. She is the author of one previous book, the novel Kept: A Comedy of Sex and Manners. She is fluent in English, French, German, and Korean.

  • Euny Hong Joshua Schwimmer
    Euny Hong
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The Birth of Korean Cool

How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture

Euny Hong

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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