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Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity (10 EC)


Admission requirements

  • General familiarity with the history of North and South Korea, and Northeast Asia;

  • Interest in questions of migration and identity, and methodologies for researching them.


NorthThe Korean peninsula has a tumultuous past; the region has been directly and greatly affected by many of the trends in modern world history. Colonialism, war, political division, Great Power conflict, compressed economic advancement, economic collapse and ruinous famine have all swept across the peninsula since the late 19th century.

The peoples of the peninsula have responded to the challenges in a number of ways. Among them, several big waves of migration have left the peninsula for other parts of Asia, the Americas and Europe (and, in some cases, back again to the Korean peninsula). In the processes, Korean identities have been put through the mill, and emerged radically altered.

In this seminar, we zoom in on Korean migrant communities to look at the notion of “being Korean” from under-explored perspectives. Using both written and audio materials, we pay special attention to the ways in which marginal Korean communities have navigated their often-troubled relationships with North and South Korea, the two competing states that now occupy the peninsula.

Course objectives

  • Analytical skills: analysing visual materials;

  • Critical analysis: contextualised interpretation of North Korean cultural products;

  • Presentation skills: present a review of a North Korean artwork;

  • Collaborative skills: group presentations;

  • Debating skills: engage in critical discussions about North Korean artwork;

  • Heuristic skills: locate and critically evaluate source materials on North Korean art.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • 2 assignments – critical reviews (2 x 1,000 words) of literature on a Korean migrant community (30%);

  • 1 presentation (10 mins; subject TBD; 10%)

  • 1 final essay (6,000 words) (60%)

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch