Transnational Asia: Korea and Neighbours

Please note: this is archived course information from 2023 for ASIAN 209.


In the East Asian region peoples share cultural legacies such as Confucianism and Buddhism. In addition, regardless of the linguistic differences, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans also once shared the Chinese writing system. In the early 21st century, countries of the region, except North Korea, enjoy economic prosperity. Nevertheless, this region has been facing new uncertainties. In addition to the rapidly changing power relationships in the region, China, Japan, South and North Korea are clashing with each other over various matters including, but not limited to, territorial issues, North Korean nuclear issues, and understanding the recent memories of the colonial domination, and the wars. These differences are well embedded in the post-war nation-building discourses in each of the countries. While considering these historical pains and possibility of reconciliation in the region, this course explores the historical, politico-economic and cultural roots of the cooperation and conflicts among these countries. No doubt, reconciliation over historic atrocities and wounds is a formidable, if not impossible, task. With this in mind, this course critically engages the current debates surrounding the concepts ‘Transnational Asia’, an approach emphasising on the intensified exchanges of people, culture, and ideas — and the possibility of reconciliation among the major players of the region.

It will cover the following topics and themes: 

  • East Asia as a common civilisation  
  • Historical and contemporary cultural and political relations in East Asia
  • Wars, colonial legacies, and wounds in Asia
  • Nation-building works and ideologies in Asia from a comparative perspective
  • Post-War politics of responsibilities, nationalism, and the Nietzschean concept of ressentiment
  • The Korean War and national division of Korea, and reconciliation efforts between the two states and peoples
  • Economic integration, environmental, human rights issues, and new reconciliatory trends among younger generations in East Asia    
  • Emergent “Asian” identity in Asian diasporic communities


Coursework only

For full course information see the Digital Course Outline for ASIAN 209.

Digital Course Outlines are refreshed in November for the following year. Digital Course Outlines for courses to be offered for the first time may be published slightly later.

Availability 2023

Summer School


Coordinator(s) Dr Changzoo Song


Readings will be available through CANVAS/Talis.


Coursework only


ASIAN 209: 15 points


ASIAN 100 or KOREAN 120 and 45 points at Stage I in BA


ASIAN 309, 753