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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Hwasook Bergquist Nam
HSTAS 482
Seattle Campus

History of Modern Korea: 1860 to the Present

Traditional institutions and society, Japanese colonial rule, liberation and the Korean War, early Korean communist movement, and North Korea and South Korea since 1945.

Class description

This course surveys the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Korea from the late nineteenth century to the present. It examines what the colonial experience has meant to modern Korean history, how Korea became divided into North and South after 1945, and how two quite distinct political, economic, and social systems emerged and solidified over the second half of the twentieth century. It examines how domestic, regional, and global historical forces created and shaped this division and perpetuated it, despite the often-manifested desire among Koreans for re-unification. Topics include Japanese imperialism and colonialism, Korean resistance and collaboration, guerrilla struggles and the Manchurian experience in the 1930s, wartime mobilization, the Cold War and the Korean War, and nation building in North and South Korea. The South pursued development through a capitalist “developmental state” under authoritarian rule; the North evolved as a distinctive socialist system under the Juche ideology and a personality cult. This quarter particular focus is on the experiences of wars and colonialism in the early to mid-twentieth century and how those experiences have shaped South Korea’s nation-building history, including development and democratization.

Student learning goals

Improve critical thinking and reading skills

Improve writing skills

Develop understanding of historical methodology

Develop effective oral communication skills through class discussions

Develop capacity to analyze diverse viewpoints and interpretations

General method of instruction

In each class session a lecture will be followed by class discussion. Students will read, analyze, and discuss primary source materials in class.

Recommended preparation

It is recommended that students take HSTAS/SISEA 212 (History of Korean Civilization) or another history course in premodern East Asia before enrolling in this course. Korean language proficiency is not required.

Class assignments and grading

Examinations, which test knowledge of assigned reading materials; participation in class discussion sessions; written assignments, ranging from short response papers to a short research paper. Timely reading of assigned course materials and active participation in class discussions are essential for success in this course.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Hwasook Bergquist Nam
Date: 03/29/2011