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Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity


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;

  • To develop collaboration and presentation skills.


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Course Load

  • classroom participation: 26hrs

  • seminar preparation: 156hrs

  • writing assignments: 20hrs

  • presentation preparation: 12hrs

  • essay: 66hrs

Total: 280 hours


  • 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%)

The final grade is the weighted average of all components. To pass the course, students must receive an overall mark of 5.5 (=6) or higher and a passing grade for the paper assignment (5.5 or higher).


Revised and expanded (5EC: 6,000 words/10EC: 8,000 words) version of the final paper to be handed in by June 12. The final grade is the aggregate average of all components.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Reading list

There is no core text book for this course. Weekly readings will be made available for download through the University Library, or will be on reserve. Readings for the first week of class will be posted to Blackboard one week before the course begins.


C.K. Green MA

In all your communications, mention your name, student number, program enrolment and the course variant (5/10EC) you are taking.