ASIA3006 Contemporary Korean Society

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Korean Studies major sequence
  • Level 3 option in the Asian Studies major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 3 elective
This unit examines major social, political and economic developments that have taken place in twentieth century Korea, and the challenges and opportunities that these have created for the two Koreas. The unit investigates national identity discourses and ideas of ethnic nationalism in a divided (and increasingly multi-ethnic) country. Special attention is also given to conceptualisations of gender, body and sexuality that draw on both 'traditional' and more recent neo-liberal discourses of the same, and how these inform such increasingly commonplace bodily practices such as cosmetic surgery, as well as cultural representations of gender and subjectivity in popular culture. The unit will also examine how culturally specific social structures, such as generation, kinship and perceived social status, affect patterns of interpersonal communication and relations. Students evaluate how the combination of indigenous philosophical traditions, the legacy of Japanese colonialism, the presence of US military forces on the peninsula, the civil war and the influx of competing Cold War ideologies have shaped contemporary South and North Korean societies.

Throughout the unit, students are encouraged to actively engage in class through interactive interactive workshop tasks and design a short in-depth research project on a topic of their choice but relevant to the themes covered in workshops. This unit is taught entirely in English, and no prior knowledge of Korean language is assumed.
Students are able to (1) compare South Korea's development of 'compressed modernity' with the modernisation and industrialisation processes in Western post-industrial societies, and apply this critical understanding to their own societies, thereby demonstrating 'ethical sensitivity towards our diverse and globalised world'; (2) describe key events and ideologies that informed the development of the two Koreas in the post-war period, identify and explain how gendered discourses of power and class interpellate individuals within society, as well as apply relevant theoretical frameworks to analyse these in the context of a research project assignment; (3) devise a research topic, identify a research topic and develop an effective line of argument and present it in a convincing manner; (4) use evidence appropriately in support of an argument, analyse and synthesise relevant data from different sources, and critique consulted literature; (5) with some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation and enquiry used within social sciences and prioritise conclusions they reach from an analysis of variety sources, giving reasons; (6) apply knowledge of Korean society acquired through the unit to their Korean language study (where applicable); (7) utilise and apply digital fluency gained through preparing for assessment of the unit; (8) use a self reflective approach to devising, developing and delivering an enquiry-based research project, present their findings orally and in academic English, and work collaboratively within a group with an ability to deal with disagreement and conflict to reach consensus (social-emotional learning); and (9) acknowledge used source styles accurately, within the text for all sources used.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) group work; (2) research project; and (3) participation (which may include an online component). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang
Unit rules
any ASIA unit
any KORE unit
any Level 2 Humanities
Social Sciences unit
KORE3812 Contemporary Korean Society
Contact hours
Up to 3 hours a week, including online lectures (over 10 weeks, see unit outline for further details). This is a blended-learning unit.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.