Week 12: War and the origin of North and South Korea

In Week 12 we look at the Korean War that led to the division of the country into North and South Korea. The textbook contains all the information in chapter 11 “Division and War, 1945-53”, but I strongly recommend you keep track of names and events on a separate piece of paper: a lot happens in these few years, and it can get confusing.

The schedule for this week is adjusted to make space for the Easter break: we have no Zoom meeting on Friday, instead we meet on Wednesday for the “class” meeting; initial discussion post is due on Tuesday.

Please fill out the Googleform survey (also emailed to you), so I can take stock. I try to keep a regular schedule for the rest of the semester, so there is some stability for your, too. But as always: I welcome your feedback! Let me know if this works for you, if it is too much, or if you have suggestions for improvements. You can also email me or leave anonymous comments on the Pad, anytime!

All passwords and links, including for Zoom, can be found on the Canvas Homepage for the course.

  • Monday (anytime before midnight): reflection on course materials from week 11.
      • Add to your blog in category HST259
      • Include the words “Week 11” in the title of your post
  • Tuesday (anytime before midnight): Initial post on the Canvas discussion board due.
  • Wednesday: Zoom session 11.30am(pink header link on Canvas Homepage): “regular class”: we will go into more detail about the course materials for the week, based on the discussions.
  • Wednesday (anytime before midnight): Final project bite: Annotated bibliography (step 4)
        • Use Chicago Notes and Bibliography style- use the Bibliography formatting for this exercise.
        • Strive for at least three good quality, preferably scholarly, sources (chapters, articles, or full-length books). If you cannot find three reputable sources, provide an overview of your search process: where did you search, which terms etc. This will help me to guide you towards more/other materials. Remember for Korean terms there may be an alternative transcription (McCune Reischauer vs. Revized Romanization).
        • Each annotation should include:
              • A brief (3 sentence) summary of the contents of each.
              • A brief explanation of how you intend to use this information.
              • Shortcomings you noticed in the source (doesn’t answer a particular question, reasons why you think it is not sufficiently scholarly to use, etc.)
              • Here are some concrete examples from the OWL at Purdue.
        • Share as google doc, and allow me editing access: this gives us a space to build a collective bibliography for your project (this may be the same google doc as in step 2)
  • Thursday (anytime before midnight): Two responses to other students’ posts on the Canvas discussion board due.
  • Friday: no class = no Zoom.
Readings/Course materials

In addition to the textbook, please view ONE documentary of your choice, and read ONE of the short stories. (As always you may read/view more if you get curious!)

  • Varley: Chapter 11: “Division and War, 1945-1953”
        • Keep pen and paper handy to note down the major names, dates and developments, in particular for the period before 1950. It is confusing but all the material you need is in the chapter.
  • Academic Video Online: Korean War videos, documentaries, and news reels:
        • Watch one documentary of your choice. (You can watch as many as you want, but just one will do)
        • There is a long tradition in the historiography of the Korean War of focusing on the American side, or the military experience (in particular the US army). Think about the limitations this creates for our understanding of the Korean War as a civil war. Does your selected documentary go beyond that perspective? If not, what could the producer do to give Koreans a voice in what is, ultimately, their story?
  • South Korean writers responded to the traumatic experiences of the War in short stories, as well as long form novels and poetry. Read one of the following four short stories:
        • Hwang, Sunwŏn. “Cranes.”Translated by David McCann. Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture 1 (2007): 305-312. doi:10.1353/aza.0.0020
        • Hwang, Sunwŏn. “Retreat.” In Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology, 1908-65. Edited by Chung Chong-wha, 322-330. Korean Culture Series. New York: Routledge, 2010. (ebook Trexler Library, part 3)
        • Kim, Dong-ni. “Two Reservists”. In Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology, 1908-65. Edited by Chung Chong-wha, 314-321. Korean Culture Series. New York: Routledge, 2010. (ebook Trexler Library, part 3)
        • Yi, Pŏmsŏm. “Stray Bullet.” In Flowers of Fire: Twentieth-Century Korean Stories, edited by Peter H. Lee, 205-232. Rev.ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986. (PDF)
  • Optional extra:
        • H. K. Shin, Remembering Korea 1950: A Boy Soldier’s Story. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2001.
              • The memoirs of a seventeen year old boy who joined the South Korean army at the start of the Korean War.
        • Peters, Richard A, and Xiaobing Li. Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2004.
              • Experiences of the Korean War from different points of view: North and South Korean, US and Chinese, men, and women.