The Korean Pentecost & the Sufferings Which Followed
William Blair and Bruce Hunt
The Banner Truth Trust
Edinburgh 1977

This slim volume contains William Blair's original eyewitness account of the 1907 revival in Pyongyang first published in 1910. Bruce Hunt has added to that, in Part 2, the "Sufferings of the Korean Church" from 1910 to 1945.

From the cover, "These pages are the work of two veteran missionaries whose lives have spanned the greater part of this period--Wm. Blair, who settled in Pyengyang (now North Korea) in 1901, and died at the age of 93 in 1970, and Bruce Hunt, born of missionary parents in Pyengyang in 1904, and serving the gospel in the same land with his wife (the daughter of Wm. Blair) until the summer of 1976. Blair, in his first term of service, was at the centre of the great revival of 1907 and he regarded it as the real turning point of Korea's Christian history. Bruce Hunt, sharing the same conviction, has here re-issued his father-in-law's earlier work on this theme, and added a second part showing how the revival was followed by a baptism of suffering."

+ Korea in Transition
By James S. Gale
Chapter VII, The Response of Korea
Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada New York, 1911

This amazing chapter is from James S. Gale's book about Korea and Korean missions written in 1909. It is a wonderful description of the revival that began in Wonsan in 1903 and spread to Pyong-yang in 1907. The excitement about what God was doing in Korea and from there into Manchuria and China is palpable. This is a thrilling read. It should also get you thinking. This chapter leaves the reader, contemplating contemporary North Korea, asking what happened that such a great move of God would seem to evaporate in subsequent years. At the same time, it can give us hope that we will see the same again in our own day for Pyong-yang was described then as one of the most hopeless of cities.

This whole book--unfortunately, long out of print--is very interesting, especially for its description of Korea at the start of the 20th Century. There are many parallels to the situation in North Korea now.

Enjoy reading this amazing story, but read with prayer that the Lord will give you understanding for our present day. Please share your thoughts on our forum page.

+ Korean Pentecost: The Great Revival of 1907 [pdf file]
By Young-Hoon Lee
Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2001

This brief well-written review of the 1907 Revival explores the impact of the revival on subsequent Korean national and church history.

+ Korean Christianity: A case for a dialectics between culture and faith [website]
Lecture presented April 3, 2003 at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Young Ahn Kang, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea.

This is an insightful examination of indigenization and paradigm shift focusing on three Christian leaders.

+ The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian Suffering with Reference to Paul's Experience of Suffering and to Korean Church Suffering 1910-1953 [website]
Kwang-Jin Jang, October 2003
Rand Afrikaans University

This paper explores the history of revival and suffering in the Korean church from the early revivals, coinciding with Japanese influence and occupation up to the attempted eradication of Christianity in the North under Kim Il Sung. It provides a good general overview of revival movements and leaders during this period. It also looks at the role of the specific sufferings at different times in the shaping that history.

Paekpom Ilchi:The Autobiography of Kim Ku
Translated, Annotated and Introduced by Jongsoo Lee
University Press of America
New York 2000

This is a very important original source, now available in English, for the Twentieth Century history of Korea up to 1947. Kim Ku was the elected president of the Korean Provisional Government (KPG) in exile in China. Expecting to be welcomed as the head of a newly liberated Korea at the end of World War II, the KPG and President Ku were disappointed to be relegated to minor status as private citizens by the United States occupational authority. Kim Ku was assassinated in 1949.

+ Eyewitness: A North Korean Remembers[website]
by Young Sik Kim
The personal memoir of a North Korean born in 1935 who experienced the Liberation from the Japanese, the Russian occupation, the Korean war and life in post-war South Korea until immigrating to the US in 1955. He draws on recent works on the Korean war based on newly declassified documents to fill out his own experience.

Korea: The Untold Story of the War
Joseph C. Goulden
Times Books
New York 1982

Joseph Goulden is the first author to use the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to previously unavailable documents relating to the Korean War of 1950-1953. Quoting from the cover flap, "He also had unique access to such sources as the confidential personal notes of General Matthew Ridgway; the personal memoirs of Douglas Macarthur's aide, Brigadier General Thomas Jefferson Davis; the Far East Command's intelligence reports, the secret war files of the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the secret cable traffic between Macarthur and the Joint Chiefs."

Korea: The First War We Lost
Bevin Alexander
Hippocrene Books
New York 1986

Building on the recently declassified material, Alexander takes a look at the war from broader perspective. From the cover flap, "Alexander demonstrates how the United States could have avoided the confrontation with the Red Chinese if it had correctly interpreted clear signals from them. Using information only recently declassified, Alexander shows that the United states won one war when it stopped North Korean aggression. It lost another war after it tried to destroy the North Korean state and eliminate this strategic shield in front of China's heartland. Red China attacked when the United States spurned China's warnings."

Korea: The Unknown War
Jon Halliday & Bruce Cumings
New York 1988

Based on a PBS television series by Jon Halliday, this is a somewhat more popularized analysis of the Korean War. It contains an extensive photographic record of the events leading up to the war and the war itself. The authors interviewed a large number of participants, many from North Korea, to build their picture of the war. They explore the political framework for the war, looking especially at the Leftist perspective. While presenting a great deal of important information, they end up seeming to be apologists for the Communists. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the material covered.
Reviewed by Ben Torrey

+ The Shinchon Massacre and the Church [pdf file]
By Ben Torrey

A tragic incident during the Korean war when, over a period of 54 days, tens of thousands of innocent people were massacred. Used by North Korea as the basis for anti-American propaganda, even to the point of building a brand new museum that opened in July, 2015, this was actually a much greater tragedy in fratricidal horror as Koreans killed Koreans. It was a struggle between the Communists and largely Christian anti-Communists. The truth about this began to come out in the 1990s. This is an essay discussing this incident and the Church's response.

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History
Don Oberdorfer
Basic Books
1997, 2001 (Revised Edition)

Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
Gordon Cucullu
The Lyons Press
Guilford, CT 2004

I am reviewing these two books together as they cover the same history: Korea from 1945 to the present. Both are very readable. I believe that both are valuable and encourage those interested in a solid understanding of the factors that led to the division of Korea and the history that has transpired since to read both of them. Oberdorfer (former journalist, resident scholar Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University) has provided a more comprehensive study of this period. He appears to take efforts to present a balanced perspective on the events covered. Cucullu (distinguished military career including many years in Korea as liaison with the Korean military and at the the Pentagon as liaison to the State Department)on the other hand makes no bones about seeking to express the value of the United States involvement in Korea during the Korean War and through the subsequent years. He does not ignore difficulties and poor policy decisions but he has a deep abiding faith in the value of the U.S. commitment to Korea. While he draws much on Oberdorfer, he also presents a great deal of evidence from his own sources and his experience of studying and working closely with the Korean military. The strengths of his work include his understanding of the military history, especially South Korean, his cultural awareness and his own personal perspective provided in a humble manner. He does a very good job of exploring the consequences of the changes that have occured in both North and South Korea. He also provides some very good insights on U.S. behavior towards Korea in the aftermath of the Japanese defeat of 1945. He does not justify U.S. policy or practice at that time, which led to the division of the Korean Peninsula, but he does provide a different look at this critical juncture, especially in comparison to Golden, Halliday and Cumings (see above) whose perspective is clearly negative and condemnatory.

On the other hand, his approach to North Korea is a bit simplistic, especially in terms of his speculations. Bradley Martin's book (see Understanding Korea in this Library) is much more comprehensive providing a good understanding of many of the complexities.

Oberdorfer is much more comprehensive but his work lacks much of the information to be found in Cucullu. Interestingly, both books provide solid factual information to dispel the common South Korean myth that the U.S. consented to or, perhaps, even authorized the events leading up to the Kwangju Massacre of 1980. Oberdorfer also provides a solid understanding of the origins of the nuclear standoff with North Korea and the events that transpired up to the time of writing.
Reviewed by Ben Torrey

Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956
Andrei Lankov
University of Hawaii Press
Honolulu 2005

This well-researched work is very important for understanding the origins of Kim Il Sung's personality cult and of Juche ideology. Following the death of Stalin in 1953 and subsequent movements in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, especially in rejecting Stalin's personality cult, there was great pressure on North Korea to liberalize a bit and to reject the growing cult of Kim Il Sung. This is the description of the events leading up to, during and following the abortive coup attempt of August 1956. Lankov (Professor, Kookmin University, Seoul, Korea, former Soviet citizen and student in North Korea during the 1970s) draws on recently declassified communications between Soviet officials in Pyongyang and Moscow as well as a wealth of other sources to document this period so critical to the development of contemporary North Korea. It is a very valuable work.
Reviewed by Ben Torrey

Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid and Reform.
Haggard, S. and Noland M.
New York: Columbia University Press. 2007

A study, by Haggard and Noland, of the collapse of the North Korean economic system and the famine that followed. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were first allowed to enter North Korea in 1995, when confronted with severe food shortages, the North Korean government launched an appeal for help to the international community. In spite of its policy of self-reliance, North Korea has always relied greatly on aid (especially oil) provided by the Former Soviet Union and China. However, Russia stopped donating in 1987. The former Soviet Union in 1990 and China, in 1993, demanded that the North pay for goods with hard currency rather than through barter trade. In 1994, China decided to reduce its grain shipment. This slash in foreign aid together with natural disasters and government mismanagement provoked the death of hundreds of thousands of people(The total number of deaths caused by the famine is very uncertain. Hazel Smith speaks of figures ranging from 800,000 to 1.5 million (Smith 2005:73) whereas Haggard and Noland speak of 600,000 to one million people (Haggard & Noland 2007: 1).) Whereas the North Korean government used the floods of August 1994 as an excuse for the food shortages, most experts agree that the famine, which had already started in North Korea by the early 1990s, was not the result of a lack of food availability but rather a ‘crisis of access to food’ or ‘failure of entitlement’ as defined by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen in his study of famines. The North Korean authorities labeled the great famine the “arduous march” of North Koreans.
Reviewed by Marie-Laure Verdier

The Great North Korean Famine.
Natsios, A.
Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace. 2001.
This book is about Natsios’s experience of working with a humanitarian organization inside North Korea. Natsios raised awareness about the famine and lobbied the international community, especially the government of the United States, for the sending of famine relief to North Korea. The international community originally believed that North Korea was suffering from food shortages and it is thanks to the persistence of humanitarian workers, like Natsios, that the extent of this man made catastrophe became known.
Reviewed by Marie-Laure Verdier

Paved with Good Intentions The NGO Experience in North Korea.
Scott S. and Flake G. eds.
Wesport: Praeger Publishers 2003
This book is about the American, South Korean and European NGO experiences in North Korea. Unlike their American or South Korean counterparts, European NGOs have been allowed to establish residence in North Korea. NGO workers have experienced disillusionment and frustration while working with the North Koreans but they all seem to agree that NGOs have established a bridge between North Korean and the outside world.
Reviewed by Marie-Laure Verdier