01:574:350/16:217:550 North Korea in the Socialist and Post-Socialist Worlds

Using historical and contemporary sources including memoirs, fiction, and films, the course examines the social, political, economic, and cultural developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) during and after its social revolution (1945-1950) that so radically transformed its society. How did the revolution affect gender relations and the status of women, the economy, domestic and international politics, cultural production, and aspects of everyday life? Why does North Korea insist on self-reliance even while espousing Third World internationalism? What is “Our Style” socialism when most other state socialist countries have either disappeared or adopted market reforms? By situating North Korea broadly within regional and global histories of colonialism, modernity, and socialism, the course explores North Korea’s past, current predicaments, and future prospects as part of the socialist and post-socialist worlds.

Course Goals: Understand North Korean history, politics, culture, and society, leading to critical analyses of contemporary issues surrounding the region, examine key historical concepts such as colonialism, revolution, socialism, and modernity, read and interpret texts and visual materials as sources for the past and present, critically assessing their reliability and credibility, write clearly and concisely, synthesizing multiple texts, to make persuasive and insightful arguments, listen actively and speak effectively through class engagement and course assignments.

The course includes a close examination of the linguistic roots of political concepts and ideologies in North Korea, including problems of translation when rendered into English, as well as differences in terminologies between North and South Korea. Course material also includes films in Korean, as well as Korean short stories in translation.

Classes are structured as a seminar and discussion-driven, including student-led presentations. This semester, the course is cross-listed as an undergraduate and graduate seminar. Each week, all students are responsible for submitting a response to the readings no later than 10 AM the day of class, which should lay out a critical understanding and analysis of the readings, and questions to bring up for class discussion. Please be prepared to participate actively in class, and lead a seminar session during one of the weeks of the semester.

All coursework should be the student’s own original work, and the ideas of others should be properly cited. It is the responsibility of all students to know and adhere to the university’s policy against cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism, including aiding others in committing such violations. These are serious offenses that could lead to suspension and expulsion from the university, and all suspected violations will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. If you are ever in doubt, consult your instructor and refer to: http://nbacademicintegrity.rutgers.edu/

Please bring readings and your notes to class to facilitate discussion, and be sure to submit your weekly response before class. Late assignments will be deducted points, unless prior arrangements have been made. If there are emergencies, medical or otherwise, that prevent you from completing coursework, please contact me as soon as possible to make appropriate arrangements.

Regular class attendance on time is expected, but please do not go to classes if you are feeling unwell and be sure to seek medical attention. Notes of the class will be available, and all assignments including readings are accessible online. You can simply report your absence using the University self-reporting absence system: https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/ If you face prolonged health and/or financial issues that are impacting your academics and well-being over an extended period of time, contact the Dean of Students at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Instructors field a lot of emails each day. We may not be able to respond to your email right away. Send your email well in advance, or better yet, please address questions or concerns in person during class or office hours. All phones and electronic communication devices should be put away and turned off for the duration of the class.

Please be respectful in all forms of communication, and be considerate to others. The course may cover sensitive or uncomfortable topics, language, or images with different levels of familiarity and experience among class members with a variety of views – let’s appreciate and learn from the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.

Classes will focus on discussion, including during lectures. Please complete the assigned readings before class and be prepared to discuss them by having the readings on hand during class to consult as needed. Two or three members of the seminar will be selected randomly each class to participate in a fishbowl discussion. Those chosen for the fishbowl will open the discussion by introducing the readings with the following: Who is the author? Why did they write this text? What is their core argument? What evidence do they present? What is significant about their perspective? Two other members of the seminar will be chosen randomly to take notes for the class in a shared document that can be edited and updated as needed by the rest of the class.

Please choose ten weeks on which to submit your weekly response. Post your response on Canvas under Discussions for the corresponding week, including the following components: 1. Do not summarize, but engage with the reading by addressing the questions for Fishbowl: Who is the author? Why did they write this text? What is their core argument? What evidence do they present? What is significant about their perspective? 2. Pose one or two questions you would like to raise for discussion. 3. Identify terms and concepts that you would like to explore. Your responses will be given points on a scale of 0 to 2 based on timely and skillful completion. Your responses should be posted online no later than 10 AM the day of class.

Please sign up for a week during the semester to present and lead the seminar by reviewing the class schedule to see which topic interests you. To sign up, post a message expressing your wish to present under the relevant week under Discussions on Canvas (first come first serve). This assignment will be evaluated on the following components in order of priority: 1. Analysis & Research – insightful argument with credible evidence based on research: a. Analyze the major arguments in the readings as you would for the weekly response. b. Research recent news that speak to the themes and issues raised in the readings. 2. Discussion – engaging questions that help unpack the readings and their arguments, including the use of Fishbowls and questions drawn from the seminar members’ weekly responses. 3. Organization & Clarity – clear introduction, thesis, transitions, internal summaries, and conclusion. Use concise, clear sentences, and visual aid (video clips, PowerPoint, etc). 4. Delivery – effective presentation and seminar leadership delivered at a good pace, making sure to include everyone. Tips: practice and preparation gives you confidence!