SOAS University of London

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

Advanced Korean Readings I (PG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

This advanced level language module will provide Korean students with an opportunity to put their language skills to use to gain an in-depth understanding of key issues related to the processes of nation building and social transformation in 20th century Korea. Each week the students will have one or two readings in Korean and an additional background reading in English on a particular theme. The readings will come from varied sources, including newspapers, essays, fiction, poetry and lyrics, as well as primary sources such as speeches, manifestos and declarations. The topics covered will range from social change during the Japanese colonial period to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation in the postcolonial era. North Korean topics and readings will be included alongside texts from South Korea.

The class will consist of a combination of a close reading and translation of one of the texts followed by a discussion of the topic. Where necessary this will be supplemented by a short lecture or introduction to the topic. Students will also be asked to prepare reading grids or commentaries which should form the basis of their discussion in class. At the start of the module students will be given an introduction to finding and using relevant Korean source materials in the library and online. At the end of the module students will be expected to write an essay in English on a topic of their choice, using Korean-language materials that they have found themselves. Diligent assignment preparations and active seminar participation will help students expand their critical knowledge of the topics and further their Korean language skills.


15PJKC018 Korean Readings (PG) or equivalent level

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  1. Read, comprehend and translate advanced level texts in Korean (with the aid of a dictionary).
  2. Understand and engage with a range of social, political and cultural issues and debates in modern and contemporary Korea (North and South) at an in-depth level.
  3. Find and select appropriate Korean-language texts from a variety of sources, including online media, archives, books and academic journals.
  4. Independently formulate appropriate research questions, propose and evaluate analyses and present evidence.
  5. Make use of appropriate Korean-language sources to answer a research question and formulate an argument in an English-language essay.


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


Scope and syllabus

The module consists of classes each on a separate theme. The first week’s class will include a discussion on finding and using materials in Korean. Below are a selection of the themes that will be used in the module:  


Topic 1 – Social transformations

Class and social change under colonial rule

Industrialisation in 1950s North Korea

Rapid development/urbanisation in South Korea during the 1970s

Propaganda and protest: Political songs under authoritarian rule

The South Korean struggle for democracy in the 1980s


Topic 2 –  Korean nationalism and national division

The origins of Korean nationalism – So Chaepil and The Independent

Nationalism in the Japanese colonial period

The Korean War – How did it begin?

Nationalism, North Korean style

Nationalism, education and anticommunism in South Korea    

Method of assessment

Portfolio of reading commentaries (1,500 - 2,000) to be submitted on the last day of the term in which the module is taught (30%); an essay of 2,500 - 3,000 to be submitted on day 1, week 1 of the following term (60%); an oral presentation (with a handout summarising the main points) of 15-20 minutes (10%) date to be confirmed by convenor.

Suggested reading

The reading list and materials will be made available on Moodle (BLE) at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules