The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture

Buy it on Amazon

*Amazon Best of the Month, August 2014 ( +
*Pop Matters Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction

Now in 7 languages.

Praise for Euny Hong and THE BIRTH OF KOREAN COOL

“Incisive and humorous…an excellent case study of calculated entrepreneurial moxie.”

Mary H.K. Choi, New York Times Book Review

“Fabulously snarky…Hong is perfectly positioned to understand this complex Korean psyche while retaining enough distance (and cynicism) to evaluate it.”

—Helen Brown, The Telegraph (UK)

“Persuasive…amusing…Hong’s breezy book is a good place to begin to understand this rising nation.”

The Times of London (UK)

“If you’re not fascinated by Korea yet, you damn well should be. The most innovative country on earth deserves a hilarious and poignant account on the order of Euny Hong’s The Birth of Korean Cool. Her phat beats got Gangnam Style and then some.”

—Gary Shteyngart

“Full of insight and shocking facts, The Birth Of Korean Cool is a hilarious, gutsy, eye-opening account of Korean drive and success. I couldn’t put it down. Euny Hong is a force of nature.”

—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of The Triple Package and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

“A kind of memoir of a culture as well as of an individual life, Hong’s first nonfiction book  mixes personal memoir with interviews and research to produce a rollicking, delightful, wise-guy story of how both she and her ancestral home became the cultural icons they are today.”

Sara Nelson, An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2014

“An insightful book…[Hong’s] brief chapter on Korea’s han against Japan is both the best and most concise explanation I’ve read of the two countries’ complicated and ancient feud.”

Brendan Greeley, Bloomberg Businessweek

“Euny Hong’s new book The Birth of Korean Cool is a sparkling gem that falls into the must-read category… engaging, easy to read and occasionally humorous and light-hearted, it’s also a fact-filled investigative study…a superb overview of the Korean pop culture phenomenon…a satisfying and thought-provoking book by a first-rate journalist whose style is irresistible and informative all at once.”

Hans Rollman, Pop Matters – 9 out of 10

“Through Hong’s interviews with the nation’s biggest influencers, and through her own humorous anecdotes, this fascinating read is an essential for anyone obsessed with South Korea’s fast-track to pop-culture dominance.”

—Jinnie Lee, Refinery29

“The Birth of Korean Cool is very funny and combines Hong’s remembrances of growing up in the poor and fragmented post-war state with her sharp observations on the cultural changes that created this behemoth of an industry…. It’s Hong’s voice, a funny, smart, often conflicted and witty combination of personal essay and observational journalism, which makes the book unique.”

—Clayton Moore, Kirkus Reviews (interview)

“A funny, iconoclastic Korean-American journalist and author turns her skewering lens on her own culture….Hong gives a thoughtful, self-deprecating and sly ….A pleasing mix of Margaret Cho, Sarah Vowell and a pinch of Cory Doctorow.”

Kirkus Reviews (review)

“Being both an outsider and an insider, Hong is the perfect guide to explain South Korean culture.”

—Jennifer Hunter, Toronto Star

“A witty chronicle of how pop culture shaped South Korea’s meteoric rise from a war-torn nation to a technological giant.”

—Seth Berkman, The Forward

“Highly entertaining.”

—Isabel Hilton, The Guardian (UK)

“The rare book that’s hilariously funny and also makes you smarter about world economies.”

—Jen Doll,’s Vulture