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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWelcome to Seoul. My name is John Delury. I'm an associate professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Studies and Underwood International College. I've been living here in Korea and teaching right over the hill there at Yonsei for the last five years. And I'm delighted to be your instructor for this course as we learn together over the next six weeks. As any of you who have been to Seoul can attest and those of you watching this video now can see for yourselves this is a bustling, dynamic, uber modern city. There are 10 million people living in Seoul. It's actually 25 million if you include the whole metropolitan area.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 secondsThat's half of the entire population of South Korea, and it's actually a little bit more than the entire population of North Korea. Given how many people are here, it's all the more remarkable. What a relatively clean, safe, and efficient city this is, whether you're talking about seamless public transportation, or omnipresent Wi-Fi access, or most importantly, delicious Korean food. But if you dig a little bit beneath that uber modern surface, you start to find that Korea is also a place steeped in a tormented past. It often reminds me of the line from James Joyce's novel Ulysses in a Korean context, history is a nightmare from which the Korean peninsula is still trying to awake.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 secondsAnd of course, in that history of Korea, there's one supporting character who's never far from the main plot line, and that is China, the huge continental power that shares an 800-mile land border with North Korea and a long sea border across the Yellow Sea with both the South and the North. And that, of course, is going to be the topic of our MOOC, is Sino Korean history. Even here in the heart of downtown Seoul, you can see hints and reminders of that history. For example, in the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, the man with the sword, down right at the heart of Gwanghwamun Plaza.

Skip to 2 minutes and 13 secondsAs you're going to be learning in detail this week, Admiral Yi is a war hero from the 1590s a war that was fought in Korea, but as you're going to learn, was, if anything, more about China and Chinese hegemony in Northeast Asia and the challenge that came from Japan via the Korean Peninsula to that hegemony. So as the statue of Admiral Yi testifies, the past is actually all around us. It's like William Faulkner said the past is never dead. It's not even past. Anyway, delighted to welcome you and get our course started. Let's go.

Seoul: a city alive with the past

Welcome to Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), Asia!

I’m John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies and Underwood International College. I’m delighted to be your educator for this course as we learn together over the next six weeks.

You can see more about me on my profile page and you may wish to follow me so you can easily see my comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Lips and Teeth: Korea and China in Modern Times

Yonsei University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Black Dragon's ghosts
    Black Dragon's ghosts

    This article will draw connections between past and present.

  • Confucius and Confucianism
    Confucius and Confucianism

    Who was Confucius? What were the core teachings of Confucianism? Was it a religion, philosophy, or culture?

  • Manchu invasions
    Manchu invasions

    East Asia was transformed by the rise of the Manchus, who invaded Korea twice and then China, establishing the Qing Dynasty.

  • 21st century Confucianism
    21st century Confucianism

    Vestiges of Confucian values can still be found in China and Korea today.

  • Korean destiny, Chinese fate
    Korean destiny, Chinese fate

    For good or ill, the fates of China and the Korea Peninsula remain intertwined in intricate ways.