The book East Asia in the World: An Introduction by Anne Prescott provides an elaborate and multidisciplinary analysis of East Asia. Its aim is debunking the widely held myths about the region through the development of an objective and focused understanding about the contribution of different aspects such as religion, politics, and culture in the economic development of the countries within the region.
The initial chapters of the book are focused on assessing critical historical narratives and the issues that distinguish the region such as religion, languages, and global interconnections. The author uses these aspects to guide the reader through the material while incorporating relevant source boxes and charts that are critical in developing an independent investigation of East Asia. The book also provides multi-disciplinary case studies that focus on a particular country within the region while targeting a specific issue. Through each chapter, the author thrives in providing an understanding of the cultural distinctiveness of each country while also focusing on the global linkages. It is through this book that the reader acquires knowledge about the larger political, cultural, and historical structures that have been critical in shaping East Asia, as it is currently known.
Information in the book acknowledges that the truth about the history of East Asia is often lost through the misunderstandings and stereotypes of the people of this region. In chapter seven titled Debunking the Myths, the author gives a presentation of the historical misunderstandings that have characterized the definition of East Asians. In the process of addressing these stereotypes, he provides a platform for reconsidering individual beliefs about the region. This is because an internalization of the cultural norms and the underlying differences in Japan, China, and Korea, the reader begins to realize the danger of overgeneralizing the entire population. It is in this section that the author dismisses mythologies about martial arts, cuisine, gender roles, economic inventions, and history. The book, according to Prescott, provides the reader with “unprecedented access to deeper…understandings, allowing one to separate the strands of truths… and unfounded suppositions” (Prescott 116). In the section labeled “Society and Culture: Confucianism in East Asia Today,” the Prescott is dispelling the categorizations of the beliefs and faiths of East Asian people by demarcating their philosophy into traditional, national, and popular Confucianism. Through this delineation, the author seeks to assert that the diversification of the process of adopting Confucianism is relative to the country and the prevailing culture. It is from this chapter that the reader begins to develop an understanding of the process of perpetuating stereotypes while also assessing the cultural differences between East Asian countries that have facilitated diversification in terms of their economic growth and development. One of the critical aspects of understanding the contribution of globalization to these cultures is that the book seeks to assess Confucianism foundation that underlies the East Asian cultural values in education. The book points out that the families and individual dynamics in the globalized society have often moved in diversified directions that may conflict with the underlying expectations of Confucianism in the education sector.
North Korea is a country that has been defined by a strict authoritarian leadership that seeks to preserve the country from cultural erosion through globalization and association with the west. The subsequent leadership of the country has been projected as authoritarian and bizarre considering the reality of the nuclear threat that the Kim dynasty has continued to pose on the international platform. According to Prescott, these are only stereotypical connotations that lose the objectivity in understanding the prevailing conditions in North Korea. In the chapter titled The North Korean Peninsula: Global Dimensions, the writer participates in a detailed discussion of North Korea’s boisterous history while illuminating the probable grounds for the aggressive and apparently persistent plans that that successive North Korean governments have been introducing. According to Prescott (200), the North Korean government is representing the Gordian knot of political economy considering that despite the view by experts that it is heading towards an imminent demise, the country has persisted overtime through its restrictive policies. Parts of this chapter could be effective in helping the reader to develop an in-depth understanding of the existing reality of the challenges that North Korea’s allies, enemies, and neighbors are increasingly facing in the process of seeking ways of finding lasting solutions in maintaining peace within the region.
The great leader philosophy has been critical in the development of policies and strategies that can be used in protecting the country from its perceived enemies. Through the leadership, the country has been led to believe in the essence of protecting its heritage from possible erosion by western cultures through globalization. This assertion also provides a comprehensive understanding that North Korea just like any other country in East Asia or on the global platform is always seeking to protect and advance its national interests. The stereotypes that have been developed to perceive North Korea as a country in which the citizens live in inhumane conditions is only a product of the west which seeks to portray the leader of the country as highly intolerant and ignorant of the needs of its people. Through this assertion, the stereotypical connotations lose the understanding that it is the responsibility of the North Korean government to engage in any measures to protect itself especially when external forces threaten it.
One of the missing historical issues throughout the book is a failure to mention the Second World War. This can be attributed to the regional attributes of the reader considering that the Second World War is one of the most controversial and highly problematic issues in the relationship between East Asian countries. China, Korea, and Japan have varied versions that they use in remembering the traumatizing years of the early 20th Century. Throughout their relationships, Korea and China have communicated their serious concerns with the whitewashed version of the war as perceived by Japan, which claims to have acknowledged the past and its desires to progress peacefully. Although it is in the past, the concerns arising from the Second World War have contributed to the perceived hostilities in the political and economic relationships between these countries. Cultural exploitation and the infiltration of western culture, in the view of North Korea, is one of the greatest threats to its stability. The country’s political landscape continues to be relatively complex because the citizens and the government in North Korea have continued to remain dedicated to ensuring that their progress is defined by their needs and their cultural foundation instead of adopting a foreign cultural practice to be used in facilitating its development agenda. The country remains relatively less open to the rest of the world as a technique of enhancing its culture.