Faculty of Arts


Korean Society and Culture

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for KOREAN 120.


Do you know that Korea has a unique writing system, which is based on science and philosophy, and it can be learned in less than an hour? That’s Korea, a fascinating country in many respects. 

Located at the eastern tip of the vast Eurasian Continent and on the coast of the 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 civilisation. Koreans, while having interacted with their neighbours, developed a unique culture and tradition that distinguish them from their powerful neighbours.           

Though once known as the "Hermit Kingdom", Korea today is characterised 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 democratisation serve as a model for many other developing countries. While it used to be known as one of the most homogeneous societies in the world until recently, South Korea today is formally a multicultural society. The increasing number of foreign residents (including migrant workers and international brides) in South Korea are changing the face of the country.

Meanwhile, with North Korea’s continuous development of nuclear weapons and missiles, the Korean Peninsula remains as a dangerous tinderbox. Where this peninsula will move very much can decide the fate of Northeast Asia, if not the world.  

Some of the topics that you will learn in this course include: 

  • Korea’s cultural relationships with China and Japan
  • Religious and philosophical traditions
  • National division and the mysterious North Korean regime
  • Economic, political and social changes in South Korea  
  • Future of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia

To help understand Korea in a broader regional and global context, we will adopt a comparative approach in which Korea will be compared with China, Japan and other Asian countries. 

At the end of the semester students are expected to have a solid knowledge of the key features and issues in Korean society, culture and international relations.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Changzoo Song


Coursework + exam


KOREAN 120: 15.0 points

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