Recommended reading: Korea, The Impossible Country
Last Christmas, my parents gave me a copy of Daniel Tudor's Korea: The Impossible Country (Amazon link). This was before my first trip back to Korea (since being born there) so, I rushed to read through it before boarding my flight.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I learned. And though it contains a lot of history, Tudor does a great job in connecting the history to show why it is relevant today. The book winds between culture, politics, and economics presenting a broad snapshot for the reader to view.
This was very helpful in my visit to the country. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Korea, whether traveling there or not.