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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: Politics of Everyday Life in Modern Korea (ASST08063)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines key topics in contemporary Korean history, politics, and society, familiarizing students with both the contours of current political issues, as well as their broader historical and social contexts. Students will read a variety of primary and secondary sources, enabling them to discuss aspects of everyday life in Korean society and analyse the relationship between popular concerns and the evolution of South Korean politics, as well as the representation of North Korea within South Korea.
Course description The recent history of Korea is punctuated by a series of dramatic events: war and the division of the peninsula into North and South; the manifestation of Cold War politics through the ideological extremes of communism in the North and a capitalist developmental dictatorship in the South; rapid industrialization, urbanization and economic growth; democratization and popular protest movements; financial and nuclear crises in the 1990s and 2000s; political scandals; the list continues even to the present. This course follows the major events that have reshaped Korean society since 1945, with a focus on the everyday lives of ordinary Koreans who experienced these events. This course invites students to look through 'the headlines', to consider how geopolitical events have been accommodated and interpreted within the politics of daily life in Korea.

This course will introduce students to key aspects of modern Korean society and politics. Students will read and discuss multiple perspectives on events in Korea, including both textual and visual primary sources. Students will learn to critically evaluate primary and secondary sources, culminating in a final essay that puts students' analytical skills into practice. Given the course focus on the politics of everyday life - that is, questions of labour, families, food, housing, and material culture that rarely enter the official record - the course focuses on South Korean politics and society, although North Korea will also be considered.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify significant themes within modern Korean politics and society
  2. Discuss the impact of everyday life on South Korean politics
  3. Critically analyse primary and secondary sources to apply theories of everyday life
  4. Construct an argument about a topic related to everyday life in modern Korean society
  5. Design and conduct autonomous research on contemporary Korean society
Reading List
Cwiertka, Katarzyna. Cuisine, Colonialism, and Cold War: Food in Twentieth Century Korea. London: Reaktion Books, 2012.
Gelezeau, Valerie. "Changing Socio-Economic Environments, Housing Culture and New Urban Segregation in Seoul." European Journal of East Asian Studies 7, no. 2 (2008): 295-321.
Haggard, Stephan and Marcus Noland, Witness to transformation : refugee insights into North Korea. Washington, D.C.: Peterson Institute For International Economics, 2011.
Henry, Todd. "Ch'anggyong Garden as Neo-Colonial Space: Spectacles of Anti-Communist Militarism and Industrial Development in Early South(ern) Korea," Journal of Korean Studies 21, no. 1 (2016): 7-44.
Highmore, Ben. Everyday life and cultural theory an introduction. London: Routledge, 2002.
Jeon, Chihyung. "A Road to Modernization and Unification: The Construction of the Gyeongbu Highway in South Korea." Technology and Culture 51, no. 1 (2010): 55-79.
Kim, Hyung-A and Clark Sorenson, eds. Reassessing the Park Chung Hee Era, 1961-1979. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011.
Kim Seong-Nae, "Mourning Korean Modernity in the Memory of the Cheju April Third Incident." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 1, no. 3 (2000): 461-476.
Kim, Seung-kyung and John Finch. "Living With Rhetoric, Living Against Rhetoric: Korean Families and the IMF Economic Crisis." Korean Studies 26, no. 1 (2002): 120-139.
Kim, Suzy. Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013.
Kim, Youngmi, ed., Korea's Quest for Economic Democratization: Globalization, Polarization and Contention. London: Palgrave, 2018.
Lee, Soo-Jung, "The Korean War and the Politics of Memory: The Kangbyon Incident" Korean Social Sciences Review 3, no. 2 (2013): 101-127.
Moon, Seungsook. Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
Musan Ilgi [The Journal of Musan], Pak Chong-bom, 2012. [documentary]
Nelson, Laura. Measured Excess: Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
Port, Andrew I. "History from Below, the History of Everyday Life, and Microhistory." In, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition. (Amsterdam: Elsiever, 2015), 108-113.
Shin, Michael, ed., Everyday Life in Joseon-Era Korea. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Essay writing, debate, analysis of written sources, independent research, group work, note taking
KeywordsKorea,South Korea,everyday life,politics,society,economy,gender,labour,democracy,Cold War,Japan
Course organiserDr Holly Stephens
Tel: (0131 6)51 7112
Course secretaryMr Iain Harrison
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