If there’s a country that “punches above its weight”, it’s South Korea. It’s home to some of the world’s largest and most important companies, and the source of pop culture that dominates Asia—and even planted a foothold in the West.
But the country’s growth would have been astounding to those at the end of the Korean War. The Republic of Korea was poor, devastated by war, and stuck deep in Cold War politics.
Shrimp to Whale: South Korea from the Forgotten War to K-Pop by Ramon Pacheco Pardo tells the story of Korea over the past sixty years, charting the country’s path through dictatorship and democracy to the economic and cultural powerhouse it is today.
In this interview, Ramon and I talk about Korea–what it was like after the war, how it became a mature democracy–and what makes the book’s title, Shrimp to Whale, especially apt.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo is Professor of International Relations at King’s College London, and KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Brussels School of Governance. He is also a non-resident adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic Studies Korea Chair, and a non-resident fellow at the Sejong Institute.