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Empire and Righteous Nation

Empire and Righteous Nation

600 Years of China-Korea Relations

Odd Arne Westad

ISBN 9780674249653

Publication date: 01/12/2021

“The relationship between China and Korea is one of the most important, and least understood, in Asia. With the wisdom and clarity we have come to expect from Westad, this book illuminates the long history of these two neighbors.”
—Rana Mitter, author of China’s Good War

“A timely must-read primer on the China–Korea relationship…and its impact on and implications for our world today.”
—Carter J. Eckert, author of Park Chung Hee and Modern Korea

“Valuable and wide-ranging…As two thousand years of history have shown, China’s role in Korea is a complex one. Westad’s short and stimulating study provides many clues to understanding that relationship.”
—J. E. Hoare, Literary Review

“An insightful and entertaining primer on Korean history over the last 600 years.”
Popular History Books

Koreans long saw China as a mentor and protector. Chinese culture heavily influenced Korea, whose first written language used Chinese characters, while Confucianism shaped the structure of Korean government. This deep, sometimes fraught, relationship has done more to shape the politics of the region than many realize.

During the Ming Dynasty, Korea agreed to become a vassal of China, in hopes of escaping ruin at the hands of the Mongols. The connection frayed in the nineteenth century, when the Qing, beset by domestic problems, did little to protect Korea from encroaching Western powers or the imperial designs of Meiji Japan. The relationship shifted again in the twentieth century as nationalism, revolution, and war refashioned Asia. Odd Arne Westad lays bare the disastrous impact of the Korean War on the region and offers a keen assessment of Sino–Korean interactions today, including the thorny question of reunification.


  • Odd Arne Westad is Elihu Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University. A fellow of the British Academy, he is the author of Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750 and The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, which won the Bancroft Prize.

Book Details

  • Belknap Press