Modern East Asia II - Japan and Korea: Conflict and Collaboration

Japan, South Korea and North Korea have histories which are intimately connected in the modern era, in fact few Westerners understand the extent to which the identities of these people are closely related in both positive and negative ways. In this course we will try to understand some of these connections, as well as exploring the serious cultural difficulties emerging in both Japan and South Korea as a result of economic pressures and rapid urbanization. One author has characterized the lives of the young people in these countries as "a tug-of-war between tradition and change"...what can we learn from these countries about the tradeoffs inherent in 21st century globalization?

Course Description:

"Modern East Asia II (Winter Term) will deal with the intertwined history of modern Japan and Korea, including the history of both North Korea and South Korea after their division. Like Modern East Asia I, this course will begin with an overview of Korean and Japanese history, but will focus primarily on the period since Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. While both the Japanese occupation of Korea and the Cold War history of these countries will be studied at length, emphasis will be placed on the changes occurring in these countries since the end of the Cold War in an effort to understand their place in the 21st century. Modern East Asia II may be taken as a single-term elective."

Course requirements will likely include regular blogging in response to readings and online assignments, periodic short assessments, a group project, two short papers and an exam. Mr. Nicholson will work with other teachers of history electives to ensure that the difficulty level of this course is comparable to other winter term history electives, and may modify the course requirements as necessary to ensure that this is the case.

  Famous for his starring role in "Team America: World Police" and frequent appearances on shows like South Park, Kim Jong-Il's rule of North Korea is anything but funny. We will study Kim Jong-Il and his father in an attempt to understand contemporary North Korea. A typical urban scene from the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, one which could just as easily be seen in downtown Seoul or downtown Shanghai. We will read a great book on the "lost generation" of young people caught between the rapid changes in their society and the traditional expectations of their parents. Does this sound familiar to anyone?