CEAS 160/GOVT 280: Social and Political Changes in Korea
Korea is currently the only divided country in the world, with two different political systems – democracy and dictatorship. This course explores dynamic transformations on the Korean peninsula in the modern to contemporary period. We will cover the demise of Choson dynasty at the end of the 19th century, the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the contemporary period (1960-present). The course is divided into two parts: Part 1 will introduce students to Korea’s political and economic development and Part 2 will cover social and cultural changes.
Parts 1 and 2 together will cover a range of issues related to Korean identity, modernity, social changes, forms of political rule, and Korea’s position in East Asia and the world. Part 1 is aimed at understanding how Korea, a country that is comparable in size to the state of Minnesota, come to have a pivotal role in East Asian and global politics. By uncovering Korea’s past, we will explore how the two Koreas took such divergent paths of political and economic development. Part 2 will explore the vast social and cultural changes happening in South Korea to understand how it has transformed from one of the poorest countries to the 11th largest economy in the world. We will also discuss how these changes are shaping Korea’s identity and role in a globalized world.
This course utilizes secondary sources (written by historians, sociologists, and political scientists) as well as primary source materials (written by leaders and ordinary people) – to understand the multifaceted nature of the major events and development on the Korean peninsula. The course will pay attention not only to domestic factors but also international factors that have shaped the political, economic, social, and cultural development of modern Korea. Upon completing the course, students will have a thorough grasp of the major social and political changes Korea underwent since the late 19th century to the present, and be able to place contemporary issues in their historical context.
CEAS 205/GOVT 281: Democracy and Social Movements in East Asia
Despite East Asia’s reputation for acquiescent populations and weak civil society, the region has been replete with social movements. This course assesses the state of civil society in both authoritarian and democratic societies in East Asia by surveying contemporary social movements in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The course is designed for students to gain a general understanding of how civil society looks like in East Asian countries and its role in social and political changes in the past and present times. Although the course will not be able to cover the entirety of social movements in the region, the course is to equip students with contextual knowledge as well as empirical and theoretical tools to take a critical approach in examining current and future social movements in the region.
There are three major themes that will be emphasized in the course. First is “problematizing” Western concepts and theories of civil society and social movements in the East Asian context. Civil society is a notion rooted in early experiences of Western Europe. The dominant social movements theories were also developed by Western scholars studying social movements in (democratic) Western Europe and the United States. How do state-society relations in East Asia differ from those of the West? How can we apply the concepts and theories derived from Western societies to understand state-society relationship in the Confucian world? What role do history and culture play in shaping the dynamics of social movements in East Asia?
The second theme is “problematizing” the democratic nature of civil society and social movements in the authoritarian context. Vibrant civil society is often hailed as a strong pillar of democracy, but civil society also exist and even help civic life to flourish in authoritarian societies such as contemporary China. How can we apply social movements theories derived from democratic societies to understand the role and effect of civil society and social movements in authoritarian societies?
Third and lastly, we will explore whether and how globalization and advancement in technology facilitate or dampen social movements in the region. What role can transnational advocacy groups play in advancing their causes? How do the Internet and new social media facilitate mobilization and how effective are they?
CEAS 206/GOVT 295: Korean Politics Through Film
This course explores the contemporary politics of Korea through academic sources and films. Students will discover how the tumultuous history of modern Korea has contributed to the present political conditions in South and North Korea. The course will focus on issues surrounding major political events in both South and North Korea, including Japanese colonialism, Korean War, military dictatorships, economic development, democracy movement, globalization, inter-Korea relations, and the recent political crisis in South Korea. Films and documentaries spanning from the 1990s to the present will highlight these political issues and events through the eyes of Korean filmmakers. The course will reveal how films problematize political issues and how a film’s storytelling compares to actual history and scholarship on Korea.
CEAS 385/GOVT 391: Legacies of Authoritarian Politics
This course explores the challenges and legacies faced by new democracies due to their authoritarian pasts. To examine legacies of authoritarian politics, we will first study the key features of authoritarian vs. democratic states. Each week, we will explore concepts and theories that were developed based on cross-national or case-specific studies and apply them to East Asian, Latin American, and postcommunist cases. The first part of the course will focus on correlates of democracy/authoritarianism such as culture, wealth, civil society, and international factors. The second part will look at “life after dictatorship” including authoritarian successor parties, political participation, civic engagement, and policing in the post-authoritarian era. The course will end with a discussion on how “authoritarian enclaves” may exist even in democracies by using the United States as an example.