SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Modern Korea: Culture and Society

Module Code:
155901429
Credits:
15
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

Having successfully emerged out of the turmoil of the early and mid nineteenth century, South Korea has long since established itself as a powerful economic player occupying an increasingly significant position in the region and globally. Recently the country's popular culture - film, dramas and K-pop - has also been attracting attention internationally. This module is an introduction to the main features of modern and contemporary Korean culture and society. It covers areas such as demography, gender, education, popular culture and religion within the context of Korean modernity. While the main focus is on South Korea, references to North Korea are also made where relevant. It is recommended that students take the Modern Korea I: History module before taking this module, but it is not a requirement.

Prerequisites

None but the module Modern Korea 1: History would be a useful prerequisite.

This module is available as an open option on other SOAS programmes.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. Understand the main features of modern and contemporary Korean culture and society.
  2. Discuss recent trends in Korean culture and society within the context of the specifics of Korean modernity.
  3. Critically assess scholarly arguments concerning modern and contemporary Korean culture and society.
  4. Gather and analyse information from secondary sources to build up a well-informed and original argument.

Workload

Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 2 hour lecture.

Scope and syllabus

The following syllabus is for guidance only and is subject to alteration at the discretion of the module convenor.

  • Civil society and political culture
  • Demographic changes
  • Gender issues: Family
  • Gender issues: Society
  • Education in Korean society
  • Nationalism and identity construction
  • Revival of traditional culture and art forms
  • Contemporary culture: The Korean Wave
  • Indigenous religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, and New Religions
  • Christianity in South Korean society

 

Method of assessment

An assessed essay plan of 500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 8, in the term of teaching (25%); an essay of 2500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1 in the term following teaching (75%).

Suggested reading

Core Reading
  • Dennis Hart, “Creating National Other: Opposing Images of Nationalism in South and North Korean Education,” Korean Studies 23 (1999).
  • Gi-Wook Shin, “South Korean Anti-Americanism: A Comparative Perspective,” Asian Survey 36:8 (1996).
  • Cho Dae-Yop, “Korean Citizens’ Movement Organizations: Their Ideologies, Resources, and Action Repertoires,” Korea Journal 46: 2 (2006).
  • Kim, Myung-hye, “Transformation of Family Ideology in Upper-Middle-Class Families in Urban South Korea,” Ethnology 32:1 (1993).
  • Ki-Soo Eun, “Population Aging and Social Strategies for Aging Problems in Korea,” Korea Journal 48:4 (2008).
  • Park So Jin, “Educational Manager Mothers: South Korea’s Neoliberal Transformation,” Korea Journal 47:3 (2007).
  • Kyung-Ae Park, “Political Representation and South Korean Women,” The Journal of Asian Studies 58:2 (1999).
  • Phang Hanam S., “Educational Inequality in Korea: Recent Trends and Persistent Structure,” Korea Journal 44:1 (2004).
  • Cho Hae-Joang, “Reading the “Korean Wave” as a Sign of Global Shift,” Korea Journal 45:4 (2005).
  • Michael Robinson, “Perceptions of Confucianism in Twentieth-Century Korea,” in Rozman, Gilbert, ed. The East Asian Region: Confucian Heritage and Its Modern Adaption (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991).
Additional Reading
  • Laurel Kendall, Getting Married in Korea: Of Gender, Morality, and Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press 1996.
  • Lee Mijeong, Women’s Education, Work, and Marriage in Korea: Women’s Lives under Institutional Conflicts (Seoul: Seoul National University 1998).
  • Laurel Kendall ed. Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2002).
  • Nicole Anne Jones, Gender and the Political Opportunities of Democratization in South Korea (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2006).
  • Lee Mijeong, Women’s Education, Work, and Marriage in Korea: Women’s Lives under Institutional Conflicts (Seoul: Seoul National University 1998).
  • Laurel Kendall ed. Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2002).
  • Michael Seth, Education Fever: Society, Politics, and the Pursuit of Schooling in South Korea (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2002).
  • John C. Weidman and Namgi Park eds., Higher Education in Korea: Tradition and Adaption (New York: Falmer Press 2000).
  • Hyung Il Pai and Timothy Tangherlini eds., Nationalism and the Construction of Korean Identity (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1998).
  • Robert E. Buswell and Timothy S. Lee, Christianity in Korea (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 2006).

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules