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Seminar Leiden Initiative on Northern Korea


Admission requirements

This course is only available for Korean studies incoming BA3 students who obtained the propaedeutic diploma and successfully completed all courses of BA1 and BA2.


What is Korean history? Who defines it in the process of production, consumption, and circulation? What sociocultural issues and political expressions are at work therein? Leiden Initiative on northern Korea raises these questions.

In this course, we examine the histories and historiography of northern Korea as a unitary cultural, political and spatial area from a local, regional and transnational perspective. Students engage a wide range of written and visual texts, produced by both Korean and non-Korean authors, providing a kaleidoscope of perspectives and understandings. In doing so, the course reveals how a distinct northern identity and/or perspective is shaped within local, national and transnational flows of people, goods and ideas. The course consists of mini-lectures, class discussions, student presentations, and close readings of both written and visual sources. Through this approach, students develop their analytical skills, critical thinking, and advanced presentation, arguing and writing skills.

Course objectives

This course has three main goals: (1) to question any presuppositions regarding Korean history and challenge the geographically bounded definition of Korea; (2) to provide detailed and nuanced readings of course materials by practicing textual and visual analysis; (3) to acquire a historically informed and theoretically sophisticated understanding of Korea by examining major essays in the historiography of northern Korea.


For more information see: Timetable

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load for the course: 140 hours.

Assessment method

Final grades will be determined by the following formula:

  • Weekly Postings: Reading reports of approx. 250 words (15% total)

  • Individual Presentations: Ten minutes, subject(s) TBD (10%)

  • Midterm Paper: 1,500 words (25%)

  • Final Research Paper: 3,500 words (50%)

Students may make an individual appointment with the instructor within 30 days of the announcement of the exam grades in order to view their exam.


Blackboard. Distribution of reading materials, submission of assignments, group discussion.

Reading list

A reading list will be included in the syllabus to be uploaded on blackboard.

Recommended readings:

  • Morris-Suzuki, Tessa, To the Diamond Mountains : a hundred-year journey through China and Korea (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010)


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University.
General information about the Registration procedure


C.K. Green


Attendance policy: a strict attendance policy is imposed. Missing more than three sessions gets you barred from further attending the course and your papers may not be graded. Any absences must be notified in advance. Dispensation from the attendance rule is possible in consultation with the coordinator of studies and for valid reasons only.