Ven. Daeahn; Gimmyoung Publishing: 239 pp., 14,000 won
Korea’s temple cuisine is no longer confined to temple grounds. In recent years, the food has been commercialized, with more restaurants specializing in it. More healthy eaters here and abroad are following Korea’s temple “diet.”
Against this backdrop, books on temple food have been popular at bookstores as well. This is an easy guide to making dishes with vegetables and other wholesome ingredients for temple diet followers.
The author introduces some unique dishes, such as a rice burger. Instead of a meat patty, a thick slice of tofu, mushrooms and other vegetables are placed in between buns made of cooked rice. One can pick up such easy recipes from this book, written by a renowned expert on temple cuisine.
Ven. Daeahn, who has been a “bikuni” (nun) since 1986, has written a number of books on temple food and once prepared a meal for U.S. actor Richard Gere during his visit here last year.
The author devotes a whole chapter at the end of the book to introduce how the Jogye Order, the largest Korean Buddhist sect, has tried to globalize the temple diet.
Co-authored by members of a commission on history writing of Korea, China and Japan; Humanist: 380, 392 pp., 23,000 won each
East Asian countries have a long history of mutual cooperation, but also conflict. Past grudges resurface constantly, turning into fierce disagreements over historical details that become ugly, making the news even today.
Written by over 25 history experts on Korea, China and Japan, the preface states that they have attempted to write a history on East Asia’s modern times as unbiased and unprejudiced as possible. Book 1 is a comprehensive overview of the last two centuries’history of East Asia in chronological order. Book 2 compares the three countries by topic such as Constitution, media, cities and family structure.
The first book, though commendable in its effort for a total overview, is overburdened by its own weight of immense information, and ends up being a parataxis of information rather than an interesting narrative. Book 2’s topic based organization on the other hand shows unity and provides interesting and amusing analysis for readers.
One point of note is the new connotations the books give to biased conflict names. For example, “Imjin waeran” is called the Imjin War, as the Japanese find “wae” a derogatory term.
— CHO MU-HYUN
Russia Dreaming of Revival
Nam Hyun-ho; Dawoo Publishing: 360 pp., 17,000 won
As Russian President Vladimir Putin returned to office for a third term on May 7, 2012, there has been much public attention as to how the power change will affect the country.
Not only has the largest country wielded strong influence over the world economy, but it is also one of the resource suppliers that will eventually determine the future of Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy. It is also true that Russia desperately desires Korea’s capital and technology.
Russia still somehow seems unfamiliar to Korea. Author Nam Hyun-ho, currently working as a TV presenter at newsY, says there are many “uncomfortable truths” about the Eurasian country, which Koreans are not aware of. So he stresses that now they need a serious interpretation of Russia in order to avoid being exploited by the resource-rich nation that plays an important role on the Korean Peninsula, amid growing bilateral trade volume.
This book looks at Russia objectively and provides detailed information for those who lack knowledge of the country and is a good guide to predicting the future of Putin-led Russia.
— RACHEL LEE
English Speaking: 7 Magic Rules
William A. Vance; edited and translated by Stephanie Yoojin Huh; Log In Publishing: 288 pp., 13,500 won
This Yale business school speech coach with a Ph.D. in linguistics has penned a textbook-like guide to help readers understand the importance of prosody: rhythm, stress and intonation of speech.
Huh, a Korean employee at his company Executive Voice (a detail the publisher neglects in the introduction), helped Vance put together a book custom made for her compatriots, pointing out the most common problems they encounter in their pursuits.
The book’s seven lessons vary in the level of effectiveness. Deconstructing English sentences to spot the different stresses on words is often a helpful exercise. But graphs of intonation, for example, are not intuitive enough for the ordinary readership of this country; the instruction needs an instructor.
The analysis of small talk, which is tacked on as a final chapter looks like an afterthought — or just an addendum to make the lucky number — and is one of faults that make it difficult to fathom the value of this book. Huh’s often awkward translations do not help either.
— KWAAK JE-YUP