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Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945 (Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) Paperback – April 1, 1996


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Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism, 1876-1945 (Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) + Korea Between Empires + Colonial Modernity in Korea
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Product Details

  • Series: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; Reissue edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295975334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295975337
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,024,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Focusing his study on one powerful clan of Korean businessmen, Eckert examines the extent to which Japanese imperialism molded modern Korean capitalism.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Korea's 35 years (1910-45) of domination by Japan are usually treated by historians as a period of political, economic, and cultural subjugation. Most Koreans look back on the era bitterly. Nevertheless, a more balanced view takes into consideration the Japanese contributions to the construction of an infrastructure upon which post-colonial Korean economic expansion could be based. Much was invested in schools, public health systems, railways, hydroelectric projects, and the like. In this study Eckert sees Japan as a catalyst abetting the rise of a capitalist class of entrepreneurs. He concentrates on a single remarkably successful Korean family, the Kims of Koch'ang county, in this enlightening and highly innovative work on modern economic development. This is a book of award-winning quality, thoroughly researched in both Korean and Japanese sources, and brilliantly presented. Of major interest to specialists in the field.
- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
OFFSPRING OF EMPIRE: THE KOCH"ANG KIMS AND THE COLONIAL ORIGINS OF KOREAN CAPITALISM 1876-1945 is a detailed economic, historical, and biographical polemic about the origins of capitalism in Korea. The author argues, that Japanese "(c)olonialism...for better or worse...was the catalyst and cradle of industrial development in Korea...". Using the example of two brothers, Kim Songsu and Kim Yonsu, Eckart reveals a rough portrait of middle-class life in pre-and-Occupation-era Korea. Wading through economic statistics, newspaper clippings, boardroom minutes, and interviews, the author also contends against nationalistic, whether South Korean ("sprouts theory") or North Korean, theories of Korean development. What remains is the disturbing thought, that the glue holding nationalism together on the Korean peninsula, is morally bankrupt.
Although this book was published originally in 1991 (reprinted in 1997), the full effect of the events it describes are still unfolding. Relations between the two Koreas, and both Koreas' relations with foreign nations, particularly Japan, China, Russia, and the United States, are complicated by questions from just this period of history. Where is Korea? Who are the Koreans? Both these basic questions continue to unnerve Koreans as they try to locate themselves in the larger world outside Asia. Eckart's argument undermines the Korean argument, that Koreans were developing into a modern nation just like any western nation. He also undermines the role of Koreans in the capitalist development of their own country. He even, by questioning the origins of Park Chung Hee's inspiration for developing South Korea after the Occupation, undermines all of Korea's development efforts.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
OFFSPRING OF EMPIRE is, in one aspect, history of a powerful landlord family, Kochang Kims, their interactions with Japanese colonial authorities and the active role they played in the growth of textile and other industries throughout 20th century Korea. More broadly and importantly, it is a rigorous and insightful analysis of the emergence of industrial capitalism in Korea. When it was initially published, the book received criticism from Korean scholars for challenging the then-dominant model of the nationalist scholarship; "sprout theory," or the notion that indigenous sprouts of industrial capitalism were nipped by the colonial exploitation by the Japanese. Recently, however, nationalist scholarship has come under attack by a new generation of Korean historians. Much of the nationalist criticism -- including the claim that the book "rationalizes" Japanese colonial rule -- were operating under the (unstated) assumption that economic development was an unquestioned good, and since the Japanese colonial rule was evil, it could not possibly have helped Korean economic development. Some young Korean historians are now seriously questioning this assumption. Economic development , in either colonial or postcolonial Korea, no longer appears to be an unquestioned good, given its gross human rights violations, environmental destruction and other negative legacies. (North Korea in its way had to deal with the legacy of colonialism -- it can be seen as a nation where nationalism, emerged as an oppositional ideology to the Japanese colonial rule, has been elevated to the level of religious credo.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Etienne ROLLAND-PIEGUE on May 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
Offspring of Empire traces the origins of Korean capitalism through the history of a large-scale industrial enterprise, the Kyongsong Spinning and Weaving Company or Kyongbang. In the introduction, the author notes that the interest in South Korea development has grown much more rapidly in the last twenty years than the broader field of Korean studies. As a result, the empirical base of English-language works for developing theories or narratives of Korea's industrial emergence remains thin, and many books rely on ideological misconceptions or factual errors. This book's first objective is to strengthen the historical knowledge base in the study of Korean capitalism through a contribution to business history. Its second goal is to set the histographical record straight and to correct some of the myths or false beliefs regarding capitalist development in Korea.

One such myth was that capitalism predates Japanese colonization and is discernible in "sprouts" burgeoning during the Yi dynasty that would have flowered even without foreign disruption. Prior to the forced opening of the country in 1879 and its annexation by Japan in 1910, Korea indeed witnessed the rise of a new merchant class oriented toward the market, some of them beginning to invest their profits in the production process itself. Some scholars have suggested that many of the key elements in the process of development toward Western industrial capitalism first delineated by Marx and Weber could be found simultaneously in traditional Korea in embryonic form. But in spite of the enthusiasm of Korean scholars for the topic, the actual evidence presented thus far does not suggest a scale of commercialization in Yi Korea comparable, for example, to that seen in Tokugawa Japan, let alone in preindustrial Europe.
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