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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.


The 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

  • To review the impact of migration on modern East Asian history;

  • To place migrant communities in their proper context;

  • To consider what it means to identify with and within a divided nation;

  • To engage in critical discussion about culture and identity; and

  • To develop collaboration and presentation skills.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

The deadline(s) in MyTimetable is/are set for administrative purposes only. The actual date(s) will be communicated by the lecturer(s) in Brightspace.

Mode of instruction


Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification or more than three missed classes may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method

Academic integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

ChatGPT: What is possible and what is allowed? Dos and Don'ts.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
1 assignment – critical review of literature on a Korean migration and migrant community (2,000 word 30%
1 presentation (10 mins; subject TBD 10%
1 final essay (6,000 words) 60%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

To pass the course students must receive an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher and a passing grade for the Final Essay assignment (5.5 or higher).

All categories of assessment must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Students who fail the course (receiving an overall mark of 5.49 (=5) or lower) or who fail the Final Essay assignment must take a resit (worth 100% of the grade).

Inspection and feedback

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Brightspace. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assessment results, a review will be organized.

Reading list

There is no required course text. Readings are listed in the course syllabus, which will be distributed in the period immediately preceding the beginning of the class.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.