Week 13: North and South Korea in the twentieth century

In week 13 you can choose to look at developments in North Korea or South Korea after the Korean war, until the final decade of the twentieth century. (Ideally you’d look at the other side in week 14 for the developments in the most recent 25 or so years)

It is rather difficult to find good primary sources on post-1953 Korea if you don’t have access to physical books in the library! If you don’t feel engaged with the materials I have here, I encourage you to poke around on the internet and use your good common sense to judge the quality of the materials you find. Bear in mind the big questions for “How to read a text” to help you understand what the possible issues are with materials before you, from videos of accounts of defectors. You can use such materials, but include an assessment of their value, and why or how you would use them as a historian.

  • Tuesday (anytime before midnight): reflection on course materials from week 12.
          • Add to your blog in category HST259
          • Include the words “Week 12” in the title of your post
  • Tuesday (anytime before midnight): peer feedback! Below you see two websites, randomly selected from the students in this course. Go to the website and give feedback on the post from week 11.
          • If one of the websites shown below is your own, or it is twice the same site, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.
          • Use the hypothes.is add-on in your browser to give feedback to the post in the group HST259. Remember the Architect’s model of giving feedback! Be kind, be specific, and provide concrete suggestions for improvement.
              • Tip: if you notice that a post is more of a summary than a reflection, you can redirect your classmate to the syllabus description of this assignment, and provide a few tips where they can turn the summary into a real reflection.
          • Website 1:
          • Website 2:
  • Wednesday: Zoom session 11.30am (pink header link on Canvas Homepage): Important editorial meeting for the textbook!
          • What do you like and dislike about textbooks? Prepare for this meeting by jotting down ideas in response to the questions in this google doc, and during the Zoom we will discuss “the textbook from hell” and “the heavenly textbook”.
  • Wednesday: (anytime before midnight): Initial post on the Canvas discussion board due.
  • Thursday: anytime before midnight: Two responses to other students’ posts due, on the Canvas discussion board.
  • Friday 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.
  • Friday: (anytime before midnight) Project bite: An outline of your project:
    • Include an introduction (or other short section) worked out in full prose
          • Why? This helps me to find out where your strengths are as a writer, and which areas have room for improvement.
          • If your project does not have a lot of written text, please work out another small segment as an example so I can provide useful feedback.
    • Note that you may have to rewrite your introduction as your writing and research progresses, and as you discover new ideas and insights.
    • Post on your site as a blog post, category HST259
Readings/course materials
  • Textbook Chapter 12 (North Korea) or Chapter 13 (South Korea)
          • Note: the final few pages of the chapter have primary sources in translation: please include these in your analysis for the discussion posts; I’m having a hard time finding good primary sources in translation that are not fiction/literature.
  • Option North Korea: Pick any of the following options
          • Zur D. “Fantasy, the Final Frontier: Making Science Moral in Postwar North Korean Youth Culture.” Journal of Korean Studies 23, no. 2 (2018): 275–98. https://doi.org/10.1215/21581665-6973308. (Trexler link)
          • Documentary of your choice from AVO on North Korea.
          • Other materials you gathered about North Korea 1953-1993. Please provide link in your discussion post.
  • Option South Korea: Pick any of the following options:
          • Kim B. “Are North Korean Compatriots ‘Korean’? The Trifurcation of Ethnic Nationalism in South Korea during the Syngman Rhee Era (1948-60).” Journal of Korean Studies 24, no. 1 (2019): 149–71. https://doi.org/10.1215/21581665-7258094. (Trexler link)
          • Kim, Dae Jung. “Interview: Kim Dae Jung: Democracy and Dissidence in South Korea.” Journal of International Affairs 38, no. 2 (1985): 181–91. (Trexler link)
                • Kim Daejung was president of South Korea (Republic of Korea) from 1998 to 2003, after a long and dangerous life as one of the major voices of the opposition against the military dictatorship. See also this article about the kidnapping and assassination attempt of 1973.
          • Other materials you gathered on South Korea, 1953-1997. Please provide link in discussion post.
  • Questions to ponder: what assumptions did you have about North and South Korea’s trajectory after the Korean War? How are you starting to see things differently now you have a bit more knowledge? How were North and South creating their own identity? Why did democracy not take hold easily on the Korean peninsula?