The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST2390 History of Korea

Semester 2 (2020-2021)

Lecture TimeTue 2:30pm - 4:15pm

VenueOnline via Zoom


Lecturer LEE Hiu Hong Michael ((852) 3943 7122 /

Course Description


This course introduces and examines the historical development of Korea over the past 2,000 years up to the present. It covers the imperial era comprising the periods of Three Kingdoms, Koryo Dynasty, and Choson Dynasty, which ended in 1910 when Japan annexed Korea, the period of Japanese colonialism, independence movement and Korean War, and subsequently the separation between South and North Koreas, each of which has experienced extremely divergent pathways of development since the 1950s. The course also analyzes and discusses major factors that affecting the transformation of Korea over different stages of historical development.




Topic & Reading



Introduction: Understanding Korean History

No readings required                      



From Three Kingdoms to Silla’s Unification

Seth, pp. 27-47



Founding of Koryo Dynasty

Kim, pp. 122-154



Koryo and the Mongol Conquest

Hwang, pp. 33-40, 51-59; Seth, 103-126



Transition to Choson Dynasty

Lee, pp. 162-165, 189-192, 209-217; Seth, pp. 127-156



The Great Korean Empire

Kim, pp. 270-320



Japanese Colonial Rule

Hwang, pp. 150-160; Seth, Ed., pp. 111-140



Korean Nationalism and Independence Movement

Lee, pp. 338-345, 359-372; Seth, Ed., pp. 153-168



Korean War and Two Koreas

Seth, Ed., pp. 171-194



Park Chung Hee and South Korea

Hwang, pp. 225-248



North Korea‘s Communist Regime

Seth, Ed., pp. 197-220

*Course Evaluation



Democratization and Unification(?)

Seth, Ed., pp. 314-325

Assessment & Assignments

Tutorial: 25 Marks

There are four tutorial sessions. Students will be divided into groups to make one presentation based on the assigned reading materials. The mark distribution of this component comprises 17 marks for Presentation Performance, and 8 marks for Participation (including Comments and Discussion). Please note that 6 marks will be deducted for being absent from one tutorial session (i.e. 12 marks to be deducted for being absent from two tutorial sessions, and so on).


Tutorial Topics (Tentative)

Tutorial 1: Choson Korea

Deuchler, M. Neo-Confucianism: The Impulse for Social Action in Early Yi Korea. The Journal of Korea Studies, 2 (1980), pp. 71-111.


Tutorial 2: Late Choson Korea

Park, A. Building a Heaven on Earth: Religion, Activism, and Protest in Japanese Occupied Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2015, pp. 23-55.


Tutorial 3 (1 Mar): Korea under Japanese Rule

Brudnoy, D. Japan’s Experiment in Korea. Monumenta Nipponica, 25 (1/2), 1970, pp. 155-195.


Tutorial 4: Korean Nationalism

Robinson, M. Ideological Schism in the Korean Nationalist Movement, 1920-1930: Cultural Nationalism and the Radical Critique. The Journal of Korean Studies, 4 (1982-83), pp. 241-268.


Review on Tutorial Assigned Readings: 25 Marks

Submit an approximately 2,000-word review essay based on the reading materials assigned for tutorial presentation. The submission deadline is two weeks after tutorial presentation.


Take-Home Exam: 50 Marks

Students will be allowed around three weeks to write an essay in English with around 3,500 words in response to one of a few questions to be announced in the second last lecture, when more details (including submission date and methods) will be given.



  • Hwang, K. A History of Korea. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. (Hwang)
  • Kim, J. A History of Korea: From “Land of the Morning Calm” to States in Conflict. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012. (Kim) – E-book
  • Lee, K. A New History of Korea. Translated by Edward W. Wagner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984. (Lee)
  • Seth, M. A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. (Seth)
  • Seth, M. Ed. Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean History. London: Routledge, 2016. (Seth, Ed.)
Important Note

The course information is tentative and subject to change and confirmation when the semester begins in early January 2021.

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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