Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash by Brad Glosserman and Scott A Snyder

When I picked up this book, I was expecting a long, thoughtful discourse on how Japanese and South Koreans viewed themselves, and how that influenced their relationship. What I got, was not quite that.

The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash seems to have devoted more space to interpreting various polls on how the countries view each other and themselves. I like the fact that they have data, but I was expecting more than just a book explaining the different poll results. There might have been other aspects, but this was my main impression of the book - that it's basically poll results.

For me, the most interesting part of the book would be the last two chapters, when the author took poll findings and tried to apply them to policy. Basically, the author thinks that Japan should take steps to improve relations by getting rid of what the polls says is the biggest obstacle in their relationship. Yup, that's the Takeshima/Dokdo islands. We actually discussed this in JLC, although my main takeaway was that this video existed.

Yeah... the debate I was expecting didn't really materialise, although that wasn't the fault of the teacher. He invited the Korean students to speak repeatedly, but they were all really diplomatic about it (I'm guessing they didn't want to risk their grades, even though this teacher was one of the most relaxed teachers in the school - those kids were serious about getting into Todai).

Basically, this book is not meant for beginners to Japan-South Korea politics (so, people like me). I appreciate that there was a lot of data, and that the authors took the time to explain it, but it felt dry to me, and the policies a bit too idealistic to come true.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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