Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: Culture Shock! Korea: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette

Title: Culture Shock! Korea: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
Author: Sonja Vegdahl, Ben Seunghwa Hur
Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Corporation; 3 edition (July 2008)
ISBN-10: 0761454896
ISBN-13: 978-0761454892

For being an introductory read, this book rocks my socks. I highly recommend this book for beginners of the language, expatriates, Koreanists, people with Korean travel plans and anyone doing business in any form with Koreans. It's that good. I've read my share of culture books and resources but I feel that this book (namely, this edition) demystifies several Korean cultural idiosyncrasies in a clear way that is easy for anyone to understand.

I applaud the authors for including a do-and-don't list. I feel that this helps clear up some questions left by other resources. It's true, most things Korean-related (as with any culture) usually aren't cut-and-dry and objective enough to make a list but I still feel that the authors were tasteful and appropriate in their advice.

This book kind of reminds me of a cross between Moon Handbooks: Korea and Culture Smart!: Korea rolled into one. There's useful info on holidays, work ethic, psyche, travel destinations, and living abroad. This book deserves a look. It's a quick read with pleasing aesthetics and well-divided topics.

You'll thank yourself later for this one.

This is by far the most helpful teeny tiny book you can buy for Korean culture. Period. It's blazingly simple but accurate and applicable. Buy it, read it and pat yourself on the back for such a small investment. As a absolute first book for anyone wanting to anything about Koreans, start with this one and move on from there. Even for those who have been here for a while, there is surely bound to be something useful. Buy it now you fool.


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