Contested Issues: Korea and Japan

Course Number:ASAN 422
Course Name:Contested Issues: Korea and Japan
Course Description:The current relations between the two peoples, the Korean and the Japanese peoples, are often described in negative terms. Japan and South Korea are both democratic and U.S. allies, but they suffer from frictions arising from differing interpretations of the past, represented by the debate on the Korean “comfort women,” who worked at Japanese military brothels before and during WWII. North Korea-Japan relations may have fallen to their worst point, with the former’s repeated testing of missiles pointing to the latter. No diplomatic ties exist between Japan and North Korea, despite some serious attempts in the past.

Although the media often emphasize memories of conflicts, such as wars, invasions, and colonial rule, the two peoples often enjoyed amicable relations in the past millennia through cultural exchange, diplomacy, migration, political alliances, and trade. This course seeks to trace back the history of the two peoples from the beginning in order to grasp the fundamental nature of their relations and identify the challenges underlying the current animosities.
Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss major incidents and occurrences that have shaped Japan-Korea relations from ancient times to the present

  • Grasp important information and perspectives from assignments and accurately convey them in oral presentations

  • Identify divergent interpretations and paradigms used to view past history and current affairs

  • Present research results effectively and compellingly in speech and in writing

  • Gain a greater appreciation of diverse human experience, remain open to different viewpoints, and explore creative ways to solve problems