Course Description

Course Name

Contemporary Korea

Session: VSOS3221

Hours & Credits

3 Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


I. Course Description
This course is designed to introduce students to the main aspects of contemporary
Korean society, including those pertaining to the family, industrialization, gender, aging,
labor, population, religion, and political system. The course will specifically focus on
topics and issues that figure prominently in the lives of the Korean people, such as
patriarchy, modernization, education frenzy, urbanization, authoritarianism, collectivism,
and anti-Americanism. Each of these issues will be examined through sociological,
historical, and comparative perspectives. The assigned readings include chapters from
an introductory sociology textbook to enhance the students? understanding of the
workings of society and to help broaden their perspective to appreciate the social
institutions of other countries. Every effort will be made to make each session lively
and engaging, so your active participation is extremely important and is a vital part of
the course.

II. Course Objectives
The principal objective of this course is to prepare students with the knowledge and
analytical tools needed to develop balanced views on Korean society. Toward this end,
students are expected to:
-Understand the key dimensions and principal trends of Korean society;
-Comprehend how class, race-ethnicity, gender, and age relate to social
institutions such as the family, education, economy, religion, and politics;
-Think globally, question commonly held beliefs, assess different perspectives
used by sociologists, and to use this process to understand the forces that
generate change and continuity in Korean society;
-Understand how significant changes in society affect the experiences of diverse
groups in Korea;
-Identify the significant social institutions involved in domestic governance and
assess their contribution; and
-Understand various social problems facing Korean society, including inequality,
sexism, and aging population.

III. Required Readings
-Kim, Andrew Eungi and Joonshik Choi. 2015. Contemporary Korean Culture: The Persistence of Shamanistic and Confucian Values and Practices. Seoul: Korea University Press.
-A reading packet (available from Gongmunhwasa, located just outside the back gate)

Recommended Readings
-Alford, C. Fred. 1999. Think No Evil: Korean Values in the Age of Globalization. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press.
-Breen, Michael. 1998. The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies. New York: St. Martin?s.
-Amsden, Alice. 1989. Asia?s Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
-Kendall, Laurel. 2002. Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
-Lie, John. 1998. Han Unbound: The Political Economy of South Korea. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
-Armstrong, Charles. 2002. Korean Society: Civil Society, Democracy and the State. New York: Routledge.
-Oh, John Kie-Chiang. 1999. Korean Politics: The Quest for Democratization and Economic Development. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

*Course content subject to change