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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bonnie Tilland
JSIS A 448
Seattle Campus

Modern Korean Society

Social organization and values of twentieth-century Korea. Changes in family and kinship, gender relations, rural society, urban life, education, and industrial organization since 1900. Differences between North and South Korea since 1945. Recommended: HSTAS 212/JSIS A 212. Offered: jointly with ANTH 448.

Class description

This course introduces students to modern Korean society, with a focus on South Korea but including some material on North Korea. While emphasis is on the period after the 1950s (post-north-south division), issues from the colonial period (1910-1945) will recur throughout the course, just as they do in postcolonial Korean society and intellectual history. The first half of the course helps students put together the building blocks for understanding the historical conditions of modern Korean society, as well as providing tools for analyzing social phenomena using anthropological and interdisciplinary social science and humanities frameworks. The second half of the course focuses on analysis of Korean social and cultural phenomena, from "the Korean Wave" of pop culture products to internet culture to food culture.

Student learning goals

Gain an understanding of complex social changes in contemporary Korea beyond simplified, stereotypical representations

Gain an understanding of the historical conditions that shape modern Korean social structure and national identity

Explore in depth a topic of interest related to modern Korean society, through either a research paper OR fieldwork/cultural analysis project

Develop critical thinking skills and employ those skills in class discussions and activities

General method of instruction

In general, Tuesday classes begin with a lecture and end with an activity (small group debate, film clip and discussion, etc.). Thursday classes begin with a mini-lecture and the rest of the class is devoted to discussion of the readings.

Recommended preparation

A course on modern Asian history, area studies or anthropology is useful but not required. An active interest in Korean society and culture is highly recommended!

Class assignments and grading

Final project (research paper OR fieldwork/cultural analysis project)

Attendance 10%, Participation and Preparation 10%, Mini-Exams (2) 40%, Final project 40%


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 Bonnie Tilland
Date: 08/15/2012