To the Diamond Mountains

To the Diamond Mountains : A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea

3.75 (16 ratings by Goodreads)
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This compelling and engaging book takes readers on a unique journey through China and North and South Korea. Tessa Morris-Suzuki travels from Harbin in the north to Busan in the south, and on to the mysterious Diamond Mountains, which lie at the heart of the Korean Peninsula's crisis. As she follows in the footsteps of a remarkable writer, artist, and feminist who traced the route a century ago-in the year when Korea became a Japanese colony-her saga reveals an unseen face of China and the two Koreas: a world of monks, missionaries, and smugglers; of royal tombs and socialist mausoleums; a world where today's ideological confrontations are infused with myth and memory. Northeast Asia is poised at a moment of profound change as the rise of China is transforming the global order and tensions run high on the Korean Peninsula, the last Cold War divide. Probing the deep past of this region, To the Diamond Mountains offers a new and unexpected perspective on its present and future.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 216 pages
  • 161 x 238 x 16mm | 426g
  • Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 1442205032
  • 9781442205031
  • 1,382,015

Table of contents

Prologue: May Day on the Yalu River
Chapter 1: On the Move: To Harbin and Hulan
Chapter 2: Manchurian Ghosts: Changchun and Shenyang
Chapter 3: Of Sacred Mountains: Liaoyang and the Thousand Peaks
Chapter 4: Borderlands: From Shanyang to Dandong
Chapter 5: Across the Bridge: To Sinuiju and beyond
Chapter 6: Diversion: On Time
Chapter 7: The New Jerusalem: Pyongyang
Chapter 8: Both Sides Now: Kaesong, Dorasan, and the Line in Between
Chapter 9: In the Palace of the Murdered Queen: Seoul
Chapter 10: Islands in the Bay: To Busan
Chapter 11: The Road to the Mountains: South from Wonsan
Chapter 12: Traveling Hopefully
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Review quote

The Diamond Mountains, located primarily in North Korea, are renowned for their beauty and have been an object of interest, even adoration, by sages, poets, spiritualists, and ordinary Koreans for centuries. Currently, the region has been a site of increased tension between North and South Korea, as they had shared administration of a tourist park there. Morris-Suzuki, an Australian professor, recently traveled through northeast China and the two Koreas; she was retracing the route of Emily Kemp, an extraordinary writer, artist, and intrepid adventurer who wrote about her experiences a century ago. Morris-Suzuki, like her predecessor, is a keen observer and a fine writer; she has combined the disciplines of history and travel writing in an absorbing analysis of the past, present, and future of this volatile region. China and South Korea, with their dynamism, seem a world apart from the repressive, static North Korea, but Morris-Suzuki succeeds in putting a human face on the long-suffering people of that pariah state. * Booklist * This smart and engaging book looks for all the world like a travelog-but don't be fooled! True, there are striking vignettes of scenery and local life as we retrace the journey that took Emily Kemp, an Edwardian travel writer, through 'Manchuria' and the Korean peninsula a century ago. But Morris-Suzuki travels both over the map and over time. She weaves excerpts from Kemp's writings and her own contemporary observations into a panoramic history of a region known as the 'cradle of conflict.' Depictions of Korea's traditional Confucian society and Buddhist monasteries of the fabled Diamond Mountains are intercut with quick accounts of the imperialist conflicts between China, Japan, and Russia leading to Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910. We segue to present-day Pyongyang and the desperate situation of North Koreans, then visit the Demilitarized Zone and move on to Seoul and the dynamic consumer society that emerged from repressive military rule. An informative tour de force for all readers interested in seeking to understand Korea past and present. * Library Journal * Tessa Morris-Suzuki's new book is a brilliant addition [to the literature on North Korea]. Seamlessly weaving scholarly research and humanitarian concerns into a gracefully structured travelogue, the author traces, with remarkable insight, the persistence of human lives beyond politics and ideologies in northeastern China and the divided Korea. . . . This book introduces us to a kaleidoscope of individuals, places, and topics, which together reveal the complexly interwoven issues facing a region whose destiny will impact the future of the world. . . . Beautifully written and full of insights, it offers both scholars and general readers a superb reading on Northeast Asia. * Journal of Asian Studies * A beautifully written book that takes the reader on an engrossing adventure through Manchuria's and Korea's past and present. By retracing the path of multiple earlier journeys through these ancient lands, Morris-Suzuki has crafted a remarkable book that sheds new light on both the history and the contemporary politics of the region, especially the division of the two Koreas. A highly readable and compelling story. -- Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Oberlin College Tessa Morris-Suzuki is the most important writer of Northeast Asia today. Told through a historian's eyes and with a humanist's compassion, To the Diamond Mountains achieves an artful balance between the geopolitical concerns swirling around the region and the lives lived there now, particularly among North Koreans. The book lucidly blends together ancient pasts with present realities, presenting a subtly powerful case that those who would fail to understand the layers of Northeast Asia's deeply interwoven whole are playing with fire. -- Alexis Dudden, University of Connecticut
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About Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. She is the winner of the 2013 Fukuoka Prize. To watch the author's video about making the book, click here.
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Rating details

16 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 12% (2)
4 56% (9)
3 25% (4)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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