Books I have written

I have published 17 books so far. Edible Economics – A Hungry Economist Explains the World is my 17th book. You can see the full list of the books and their details below.

Six of these 17 books have been co-authored (numbers 4, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 16 in the list below) and four of them are collections of previous published articles and book chapters (numbers 2, 5, 8, and 10).

13 of the 17 books were published in English first and, between them, they will soon have been translated into 45 languages (Albanian, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese [classical], Chinese [simplified], Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Eritrean, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Malay, Malayam, Marathi, Mongolian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, and Vietnamese) and published in 46 countries (Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, the USA, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam).

Two of my books are available only in Korean (numbers 8, 9, and 14) and one of them (number 2) only in Spanish, although this is a collection of articles first published in English.

Two of the books (numbers 6 and 10) are really policy pamphlets, rather than full-blown books, but I think they are substantial enough to qualify as the equivalent of novella in the literary world.

Seven of my books have been written for the general reader (numbers 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 17). You won’t be able to read three of these books unless you read Korean (numbers 8, 9, and 14).

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 500,000 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 About Capitalism* is my second attempt at writing for the general public in English. 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.

Economics: The User’s Guide* was published as the very first volume in the revived series of the legendary Pelican paperbacks by Penguin Press. It is a textbook for the general reader, but it is not a “dummy’s guide to economics”. It deals with fundamental issues in economics, including the definition of the subject, whether economics is (and can be) a science, the strengths and the weaknesses of different schools of economics, while paying attention to issues that are often neglected by economists – such as work (which is seen by most economists as an inconvenience that we have to put up with so that we can earn money whose consumption is the ultimate goal of life) and production (which many economists discuss only in perfunctory manner through the ‘production function’).

My latest offering, Edible Economic – A Hungry Economist Explains the World is an attempt to draw in readers who would never have touched economics with a barge pole by enticing them with juicy stories about food, whether it is about its biology, its origin and spreading, its significance in some culture or historical event, or my personal relationship with particular food ingredients and dishes. I have taken this approach because I think it is extremely important for all citizens to have basic knowledge about economics – otherwise, democracy is meaningless because, under capitalism, almost all our collective decisions are bound up with economics. So I wanted to find a ‘fun’ way for people to get interested in economics and learn it.

  1. The Political Economy of Industrial Policy, Macmillan, London and Basingstoke, 1994 (paperback edition, 1996)
  2. El Papel del Estado en el Cambio Económico, Editorial Planeta Mexicana, Mexico City, 1996 (collection of essays already published elsewhere translated into Spanish and edited by Clemente Ruiz-Duran)
  3. Kicking Away the Ladder – Development Strategy in Historical Perspective, Anthem Press, London, 2002
  4. Restructuring Korea Inc, Routledge/Curzon, London, 2003 (co-author: Jang-Sup Shin)
  5. Globalization, Economic Development and The Role of the State, Zed Press, London, 2003 (collection of essays)
  6. The Northern WTO Agenda on Investment – Do as We Say, Not as We Did, South Centre, Geneva, and CAFOD (Catholic
  7. Reclaiming Development – An Alternative Economic Policy Manual, Zed Press, London, 2004 (co-author: Ilene Grabel)
  8. Gae-Hyuck Ui Dut (The Reform Trap), Bookie, Seoul, 2004 (collection of essays in Korean)
  9. Kwe-Do Nan-Ma Hankook-Kyungje (Cutting the Gordian Knot – An Analysis of the Korean Economy), Bookie, Seoul, 2005 (in Korean) (co-author: Seung-il Jeong)
  10. Why Developing Countries Need Tariffs – How WTO NAMA Negotiations Could Deny Developing Countries’ Right to a Future South Centre, Geneva, and Oxfam International, Oxford, 2005
  11. The East Asian Development Experience – The Miracle, the Crisis, and the Future Zed Press, London, 2006 (collection of essays)
  12. Bad Samaritans Rich Nations, Poor Policies, and the Threat to the Developing World, Random House, London, 2007
  13. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Allen Lane (Penguin), London, (September, 2010) and Bloomsbury USA, New York, (January, 2011)
  14. Moo-Ut-Eul Sun-Tek-Hal Gut-In-Ga (The Choices we have to make), Bookie, Seoul, 2012 (in Korean) (co-authors: Seung-il Jeong and Jong-tae Lee)
  15. Economics: The User’s Guide, Penguin, London (May 2014) and Bloomsbury USA (September 2014).
  16. Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016) (co-authors: Jostein Hauge and Muhammad Irfan)