History of Korean Civilization

Listed as Korea 50 in UCLA Registrar

This course surveys the history of the Korean peninsula from the period of early state formation to contemporary North and South Korea. Taking account of Korea’s pivotal geographical and cultural position in East Asia, the course will cover topics such as the emergence of Korean political and cultural identities, the appropriation of cosmopolitan ideologies like Buddhism and Confucianism, formation of traditional Korean society during the Chosŏn period, and Korea’s confrontation with imperialism and colonialism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will also examine Korea’s postwar division and the divergent historical trajectories followed by North and South Korea. We will consider these issues both in terms of their immediate historical context and their impact on contemporary Korean society and global politics.

By taking the course, students will

  • Acquire a chronological overview of Korea’s history
  • Engage with major themes in Korea’s history
  • Understand how Korea’s past is integrated with the histories of Korea’s neighbors and broader global patterns
  • Develop their ability to read historical materials (both primary and secondary) with a critical lens
  • Reflect on how they might relate to the experiences of people distant in time and place from themselves
  • Improve their writing skills by formulating complex ideas based on solid logic and evidence
  • Improve their writing skills by articulating their own, personal perspectives on the historical past in an evidence-based manner