I published my first English book for the general reader, “Bad Samaritans”*, in 2007. This book was endorsed by a number of commentators across the political spectrum – from Noam Chomsky on the left to Martin Wolf on the right. The book deals with a range of rather serious issues related to economic development – trade policy, intellectual property rights, regulation of foreign investment, privatization, democracy, corruption, and culture. However, in order to make these issues accessible to lay readers, I engage the services of Monty Python, The Full Monty, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Tom Cruise, Mother Teresa, my daughter Yuna, my son Jin-Gyu, and an elephant.
“Bad Samaritans” got a lot of attention in my native Korea, because it was put on the list of books banned in the military barracks for their subversiveness in the summer of 2008, several months after the publication of its Korean translation. It was a bestseller even before the ban, as it was selected as the ‘book of the year’ for 2007 by no less than four leading newspapers and two TV stations, but the ban catapulted the book into a literary stratosphere in Korea, as it had the aura of a ban but was freely available in bookshops outside the military. To date, the Korean translation of the book has sold over 400,000 copies – probably double what it would have sold without the ban, telling from the pre-ban trend – which is something of a record sale for a social science book for Korea, and possibly beyond.
“23 things they don’t tell you capitalism” * is my second attempt at writing for the general public. In this book, I try to be even more user-friendly than in “Bad Samaritans“, which many people said was very easy to read for an economics book. As my US publisher, Bloomsbury USA, describes, it is a ‘lighthearted book with serious purpose’. Not to be outdone by “Bad Samaritans“in terms of its entertainment value, “23 things” employs my son Jin-Gyu (again), the ‘Dead Presidents’ on the dollar bills, Walt Disney’s Rescuers, an Indian bus driver named Ram, and sheep-burning French farmers.
I have published 13 books so far and edited 10.