KOR1504 - Korea: History, Society, Politics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Through the course of its ”compressed modernization”, Korea has been undergoing drastic changes at the neckbreaking speed from the end of the 19th C. onward, being first turned into a highly regimented colony of Japan and then divided between two Cold War states, which solidified their power systems in a fratricidal war.

This course is aimed at understanding:

  • what sort of influence the pre-modern tradition, colonial regimentation and Cold War militarism exerted upon the societies in both South and North Korea
  • what factors were decisive in South Korea’s high-speed economic development and institutional democratization
  • what strategies the disadvantaged groups of the South Korean society (workers, migrants, women, etc.) have been employing in the struggle for their rights

Specially highlighted is the issue of the social costs of the processes of capital accumulation and centralized, government-led industrialization in both South and North Korea.

Learning outcome

  • This course gives a historically informed overview of politics and society in South and North Korea, focusing on state structures, systems of corporate governance, relationships between the bureaucracy and corporate bourgeoisie, developments in the perceptions of the external world and foreign relationship, positions of workers, women and migrants, and ecological problems.
  • Students should also learn about the two Korea’s complex entanglements in the international trade an investment networks and interstate hegemonic structures.
  • The aim is to present basic knowledge about Korea’s modern and contemporary history, politics and society, to introduce the students to the literature on the subject and to discuss various ways of understanding and interpreting Korea’s modern developments.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


The course is based on a combination of lectures and seminars, in total 10 classes of 2 hours each. Active participation in the seminars is encouraged.

The course has joint classes with KOR4504 - Korea: History, Society, Politics (discontinued).

A preliminary draft of the term paper must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. The draft should be ca. 2-3 pages long and encompass title, subtitle, chapter titles, brief contents of each chapter, and a literature list. The draft is to be submitted in Fronter within a given deadline.

An approved draft is only valid for one semester.

Guidelines for compulsory tuition activities at the Faculty of Humanities 


The preliminary draft must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam (please see "Teaching" for more information).

The exam is a term paper of 10 pages (2300 characters per page, excluding spaces), not including the front page and the list of references. The topic of the essay should be approved by the teacher in the beginning of the semester.

The term paper is to be submitted in Fronter within the given deadline. 

Information about writing and submitting assignments at IKOS.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2012

Periodic evaluation Autumn 2008

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2018


Every other autumn starting 2018

Teaching language