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Books, etc.

Kim Dae Jung and the Quest for the Nobel

How the President of South Korea Bought the Peace Prize and Financed Kim Jong-il's Nuclear Program
Rhetoricians and Missiles

Kim Ki-sam / Donald Kirk
South Korea's secret intelligence campaign against the Norwegian Nobel Committee

"What I am concerned about is the need for more openness about the work of the Nobel Committee."
Geir Lundestad, Dagbladet Magazine, April 23, 2016.

Kim Ki-sam, kicking off the South Korean intelligence service, unveils in collaboration with journalist and author Donald Kirk the Extensive campaign like Kim Dae-Jung, former president of South Korea, led to winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Dae-jung was praised as Asia's Mandela for its sunshine policy, but soon it appeared that the peace prize was based on fake terms, monitoring and corruption.

The authors show by means of unique documentation how members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and other key people and journalists risk being used as pieces in a major political game in government leaders' pursuit of the best of all prices, the Nobel Peace Prize.
Translated by Oivind Stenersen, Ivar Libaek and Asle Sveen

Dear friends,
Happy New Year to you, too !!
Thank you so much for your last mail. The publication of your book here in Norway has been very positively received. The Norwegian Broadcasting System (NRK) presented it in programs in both radio and TV and several newspapers had articles about it. The most interesting comment came from bishop Stalsett who underlined that Kim Dae-jung would never have got the prize if the committee had been aware of the magnitude of the campaign and the pay-off for the summit. He described the book as a “spy thriller of high class” and admits that the Nobel Committee should have been more critical. At the same time he stressed that KDJ deserved the prize and defended his visit to Seoul because he looked upon it as a natural part of his position as bishop working in the spirit of Christian brotherhood. The former director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, once again said that the campaign did not influence the decision in 2000, but I must add that he credibility of the book is so convincing that most readers will disagree. The new director of the institute, Olav Njolstad, commented that the book contains a fantastic story which is almost unbelievable. He also made it clear that the Nobel Committee has adopted new ethic rules that regulate the principles for contact between committee members and lobbyists. The revelations in your book have undoubtedly demonstrated the need for such regulations.
Once again, many thanks for the splendid cooperation in this project. It has been a pleasure working with you.
Best regards
Oivind Stenersen
Author, foreword to the book, and translator of text

Perspectives on Asia

Forbes Asia, cover, Cho Jung-Ho of Meritz (1.15 MB)

Bittersweet Saga of Success

Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1972-1976

New York Times Magazine, 1966-1978

Okinawa and Jeju: Bases of Discontent

The fear of regional war hangs over these island enclaves -- Okinawa the southernmost prefecture of Japan, Jeju the southernmost province of Korea. Both have suffered unimaginable tragedy, Okinawa in the biggest and last battle of "the Pacific War" in 1945, Jeju in the revolt that broke out in 1948. While people on Okinawa protest the U.S. bases, people on Jeju fear a new base will be a magnet of attack. This book looks at the controversies from all sides, draws intriguing comparisons and looks ahead to a clouded future overcast by disputes with China.

Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine

"For a well-informed critical treatment of the Sunshine Policy, see Donald Kirk, Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine."
-- Victor Cha, The Impossible State: North Korea Past and Future

This book recounts the rise of Kim Dae Jung from an oppressed region of Korea, his ascent to the national stage, and his encounters with the dictatorial leaders who tried to take his life and then had him tried for his role in the Kwangju revolt. For the first time, using original sources and his own reporting going back to 1972 when he met Kim Dae Jung at his home in Seoul, Donald Kirk explores the great untold story of modern Korean history.

The book details Kim Dae Jung's exile in the United States and his drive for power climaxed by his election as president in 1997 at the height of economic crisis. The story focuses on his Sunshine policy of reconciliation with North Korea, his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, his drive for the Nobel Peace Prize -- and reveals the corruption that ensnared his sons and aides.

(Palgrave Macmillan, NY, UK, 2009)

"Kirk’s account of the failure of DJ’s ‘Sunshine Policy’ toward North Korea....‘must reading’ for all American policymakers before they prepare to deal with Pyongyang.”
—Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, The American Enterprise Institute

"Brilliantly researched and equally well written, Kirk’s newest book could not come at a more important time."
--Bruce E. Bechtol Jr., Professor of International Relations, Marine Corps Command and Staff College

"Kirk documents President Kim Dae Jung’s hidden transfer of over $500,000,000 to the 'beloved' leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-il, as part of the hidden bartering to get a summit, 'sunshine,' bilateral talks, and, not incidentally, a Nobel Peace Prize.... the DPRK devoted the assistance to an oppressive military establishment, possibly advancing the development of nuclear weapons...."
-- Colonel (retired) Louis T. Dechert, Korea and Vietnam veteran, former president, Korean War Veterans Association

Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Oxford

Three lengthy articles discuss in detail the very different experiences of the two Koreas on the issue of human rights. The articles, written at the request of David P. Forsythe, distinguished professor at the University of Nebraska and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Human Rights, published in 2009 by Oxford University Press, appear in volume three of the five-volume project.

The article on North Korea covers the tragedy of the gulag, in which tens of thousands of North Korean citizens are consigned to work, suffer and die. David Hawk's studies, notably The Hidden Gulag, were a rich resource. The article on South Korea analyzes the South's transition from the era of dictatorship to democracy. A biographical sketch of the late Kim Dae Jung chronicles his life from his birth, upbringing and education in South Cholla Province to his battles with South Korea's dictatorial leaders to his election as president in 1997, his June 2000 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Il, his successful quest for the Nobel Prize and the corruption that mired his legacy.

Remembering Murray Sayle, From Vietnam to Japan

Don met Murray Sayle in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War. He saw him next in Hong Kong, then in Japan, where they both worked for years. In this article in The Correspondent, published by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, Don looks back on Murray, much missed friend and colleague.
The passing of an artist (267 KB)

A haunting story from Don's early days at the New York Post

I--Looted:The Philippines After the Bases; II--Philippines in Crisis: U.S. Power versus Local Revolt

1.--(St. Martin’s, NY; Macmillan, UK, 1998; Palgrave, NY and UK, paper, 2000)

Unveils the democratic myth that has shrouded the Philippines, exposing endemic corruption and exploitation. One of history's greatest volcanic eruptions symbolizes the seething discontent of society -- and unbridled greed amid the loss of America’s largest overseas air and naval bases.

II.--(Anvil, Manila, paper, 2005)

Expanded, updated version, from the escapades of the World Trade Center plotters in Angeles City to tragedy and political chicanery in Manila to revolt on the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan.

Conversation with the Author

Wide-ranging interview with a leading Asian business magazine, Asia-Pacific Business & Technology Report

The Sinking of the Cheonan

Debunking the myths about the sinking in the Yellow Sea of the South Korean navy corvette the Cheonan by a torpedo fired by a North Korean midget submarine in March 2010.

Tell it to the Dead: Stories of a War

(M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, N.Y., hardcover and paper, 1996)

“Journalist Kirk arrived in Vietnam in 1965 and covered the war for The Washington Star, the Chicago Tribune and other American periodicals. Here are 15 stories, most reprinted, from that period as well as visits over the decades after the war.”
- Book News

Wider War: The Struggle for Cambodia, Thailand and Laos

(Praeger, NY; Pall Mall, UK, 1971)

This book was written at the height of the Vietnam War, in Saigon's Majestic Hotel. The title derives from President Nixon's declaration that U.S. forces, as they poured into North Vietnamese base areas in Cambodia, were not seeking a "wider war."

Viewpoint: Lambs to the Slaughter

Washington's pact with Pyongyang won't help the starving children

Donald Kirk, TIME ASIA
MARCH 29, 1999

She looks about six or seven, but tiny Kim Yun is all of 12 years old. And she is one of the lucky ones--a child who has escaped death by slow starvation in North Korea. Now she approaches foreigners, usually tourists from South Korea, as they take photographs from the Chinese side of a bridge across the Tumen River between China and North Korea. Her father died several years ago, probably from starvation, she says. Her sister drowned trying to cross the river. She tries not to think about her mother, now dying slowly of malnutrition. "What's the use?" she asks.

Old Pro, New World

From cabling to telexing to emailing and beyond, a story's still a story, but the business is definitely evolving. That's not necessarily a good thing as this look-back, from reporting from Indonesia during "The Year of Living Dangerously" to covering Baghdad for USA Today in the 1990-1991 Gulf War, explains.

Korea Witness: 135 Years of War, Crisis and News in the Land of the Morning Calm

More than 60 correspondents chronicle the ups and downs of covering Korea from the arrival of the first photographer-correspondent Felice Beato with American troops attacking Kangwha Island in 19871. This book, published on the 50th anniversary of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club, includes selections on the Korean War, the Kwangju Revolt and North Korea too, edited by Don Kirk and Choe Sang Hun.

Reflections on Korea

Charles Duerden interviews Donald Kirk, Korea Trade & Investment, a journal published by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, KOTRA, Vol. 21, No. 5, September-October 2003.

The Media and North Korea Under Kim Jong-eun

Paper, presented at a conference sponsored by Ha Tae-keung's North Korea Open Radio on November 22, 2010, day before North Korea bombarded Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea.

Sons Rise in a Moon Shadow

The inside story of the resurgence in Korea of the Rev. Moon's Tongil Group featuring interviews with two of his most favorite sons, one taking care of business, the other the church

Korean Crisis: Unraveling of the Miracle in the IMF Era

(St. Martin’s, NY; Macmillan, UK, 2000; Palgrave, NY and UK, paper, 2001)

The first book to look at Korea in the economic turmoil that swept Asia in 1997; probes the origin and impact, the battles between government and business, and the role of the IMF.
“Kirk writes vividly and illustrates his story throughout with firsthand reporting." -- Shim Jae Hoon, Far Eastern Economic Review

Grand Illusions

A chance meeting with an Egyptian engineer in Pyongyang's Prosperity Store offers insights into Orascom's scheme the Hotel Ryugyong, whose pyramid-style structure dominates the capital's skyline.

Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Ju Yung

(M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, N.Y.; Asia2000, Hong Kong; hardcover and paper, 1994)

"Readable and honest study of the emergence of an Asian conglomerate" -- Forbes Global

From the publishers:
"A trail-blazing book, the first major study of the inner workings of a Korean chaebol or conglomerate. Kirk, over the course of six years, probed deep into the inner fabric of the Hyundai group in pursuit of the story of the Korean economic miracle since the end of World War II and the end of Japanese rule over the Korean peninsula."

The Business Guide to the Philippines

(Butterworth-Heinemann, UK and Singapore, 1998)

"All contributors are experts and specialists in their fields, providing you with an unparalleled wealth of insider knowledge. Each chapter is packed with the kind of information and advice usually available only to elite clients with large budgets for outside consultants."
- Forbes.com Book Club

"A guide for potential investors which covers negotiation preparation, marketing and distribution, foreign trade, taxation, customs, intellectual property and business law, financing, economic conditions and trends, environmental regulation, the work force, and other information."
- Book News

Economic Battles

I.--Iraq Wages Economic War

Don arrived in Baghdad on June 28, 2004, the day of the "handover" to the interim government, and spent a month on interviews for this Institutional Investor cover, September 2004.

II.--Korea Fights Corruption

The sight of Chey Tae Won, handcuffed and his arms bound by rope, being led off from his court sentencing to jail on June 13, brought back unhappy memories of the late 1990s in South Korea.

Seoul Food

Seoul throbs with a vigor and a vitality that come as a shock to anyone returning years after visiting the shattered capital in the aftermath of the Korean War—or even a generation ago, when it remained a distant Asian outpost, clearly fallen behind other major regional centers.