Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsKorea is often called the land of morning calm. This image of timeless serenity reflects the mistranslation of the word Choson, which was the name of the royal dynasty founded in 1392 that ruled Korea for over 500 years. Two Chinese characters formed the word "cho," or morning, and "son," which means freshness but can also mean brilliant or clear. Koreans observed that just as Japan is always to the east, Korea is always east of China. When the Chinese looked east, they saw the sun rise from that direction, and they called Korea the land of clear morning light. Traditional Koreans firmly believed the brilliance of their cultural achievements. The modern history of Korea, however, is a tragic tale of colonisation, division, and war.
Skip to 0 minutes and 57 secondsI'm Michael Kim, a modern Korean historian at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. My course will focus on the Korean history from 1945 to the present. Out of the ashes of the Korean War that broke out in June 1950 emerged two rival nations with their own burning desire to enter the world stage. The North created a model socialist state under Kim Il-sung that collapsed economically after the fall of the Soviet Union. The North's economic struggles, however, did not prevent it from developing a controversial nuclear programme that shocked the world. South Korea had one of the lowest GDPs in the world 1950s, yet achieved rapid economic development. But not without a troubled history of military rule and protracted struggle for democracy.
Skip to 1 minute and 42 secondsMy course will allow us to examine the reasons why the light of Korea once again shines upon the world stage. And we will discuss the complex politics and the fascinating story behind the modern transformation of this prominent East Asian nation.