Course syllabus



Subject and Catalogue Number: Course Name

SEMESTER 2, 2019

15 points

Course Convenor: Dr. Changzoo Song 

Course delivery format:

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

 Summary of Course Description:              


Korea is a fascinating country in many respects. Located at the eastern tip of the Eurasian Continent and on the coast of North Pacific Ocean, the Korean peninsula connects the continent and the ocean. Bordering with China and Japan (and Russia), Korea occupies the heart of Northeast Asian civilization. Koreans, while having interacted with their neighbors, developed a unique culture and tradition. Indeed, Korea’s relationship with its traditional neighbors of China, Mongolia, Manchuria and Japan shaped its history and culture. In modern day its relationship with China, Russia, Imperial Japan, and the USA has also influenced on the country’s contemporary politics, economy, society, and culture.   

Though once known as the ‘Hermit Kingdom’, today Korea is characterized by its dynamic economy, vibrant society, and interesting popular cultural products. South Korea is the world’s thirteenth largest economy and its experiences of rapid economic development and political democratization serve as a model for many other developing countries. South Korean society, which used to be one of the most homogeneous societies in the world, has been much more multicultural after the 1990s with increasing number of foreign residents, including migrant workers and international brides. The South Korean population is rapidly aging and the country records one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

North Korea, which has been competing with the South for political legitimacy and hegemony, has followed an interesting and unusual development path. The country’s economy seriously declined after the 1980s, but has maintained a strong military with nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. What will happen to these two Koreas as the conventional power balance in Northeast Asia is changing and the powerful neighbors of China, Japan, Russia and the US are involved?           

This course is to provide students (who have minimal or no prior knowledge on Korea) with key features of Korean society, culture, and politics. Taking topical and comparative approaches, this course will focus on:

  • How the modern Korean nation has developed and divided into North Korea and South Korea;
  • Korea’s relationship with its neighbors, China, Japan, Russia and the US in terms of both culture and politics;
  • Religious and philosophical traditions in Korea;
  • The economic development and social changes of South and North Korea;
  • National division and the development of North Korean regime;
  • Political changes both in South and North Korea;
  • Challenges of globalization and demographic changes in South and North Korea;
  • Inter-Korean relationship and future of the Korean Peninsula.

Course outcomes:

A student who successfully completes this course will have the opportunity to:

  • Have a solid knowledge of the key features and issues regarding South and North Korean society, culture, history, and international relations;

  • Have deeper knowledge on the topics that they focused through their essays;

  • Take higher level courses on Korea and/or on Asian countries.   

 Assessment Summary:

Weighting of assignments and due dates:





Date Due


Review (700 words)

Week 6 


Presentation (7-10 PowerPoint Slides including pictures; 5 minutes)

Each Week from Week 4 to Week 11


Essay (1,500 words)

Week 11 


Final Exam (2 hrs)


Weekly Topics:

Prescribed Texts: 

Online-based readings available in Talis

 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.


Well-being always comes first

We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Course summary:

Date Details