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Urban Korea


Admission requirements

This course is only available to BA2 students in the Korean Studies programme.


In this course, we explore the material and immaterial conditions that characterise today’s South Korean cities and urban culture, with focus on the following major themes: Cold War urbanity and modernity; compressed growth, fast urbanism, and aspirations; digital technologies and urban culture. Sub-themes include politics around urban market redevelopment, exporting smart city, digital platform and urban life, innovation, entrepreneurialism and governance, and the digital-urban intersection in the evolving social movements.
Each week, the course will begin by introducing a place, landscape, or historic moment that guide us into the sub-themes, followed by discussions about the socio-spatial forces behind the scenes. Case studies will be introduced where applicable, encouraging the class participants to critically think through the research questions, methods, and ways of thinking that the case studies entail.
For assignments, student participant will engage with course materials of one’s choice from a list of papers (academic articles) and media references (drama, film, documentary, and clips produced by investigative journalists). Presentations, planned between mid-point and end of the term, will be participants’ introduction about final project plans. Instructor and peer participants will provide feedbacks, which the presenters will use to develop the final projects.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following skills and knowledge:

  • Develop understandings in how different historical, spatial, and digital forces have transformed urban spaces, cultures, and social relations in Korea

  • Use key concepts to critically discuss the impacts of fast urbanisation and technological changes on daily life

  • Discuss and provide feedbacks on the research plans presented by peer participants

  • Engage in class case study examples to independently design research questions and methods


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar

Assessment method

  • Attendance and class discussion: 20%

  • Reflection paper (1000-word): 20%

  • Presentation (5-10 minutes): 20%

  • Final project (3000-word research paper): 40%


To pass the course students must receive an overall mark of 5.50 or higher and a passing grade for the final project (5.5 or higher).


If a pass mark is not obtained for this course, the student is entitled to one resit. The resit consists of a research paper of 4500 words that counts for 100% of the final mark. Only one resit is possible.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback for the mid-term assignment will be provided no later than 2 weeks from the assignment submission date. Feedback for presentations will be offered by the instructor and the peer class participants during the class. Feedback for the final project will be released no later than 2 weeks from the project submission.

Reading list

All readings will be available on Brightspace and links will be provided on Brightspace where media references are used.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


Attendance to all lectures and seminars is expected. A strict attendance policy will be enforced. Failure to attend may result in a lower grade. If you are absent for more than three classes your exam and/or paper may not be graded by the instructor. If you have a valid reason not to attend, you may get dispensation from this rule, but this requires consultation with the teacher.