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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsHello everyone. My name is Michael Kim. I am a historian at Yonsei University. And my specialty is the Colonial Period of Korean history, which is from 1910 to 1945. However, in this course, I will cover the Post-colonial history, beginning with the liberation of Korea in 1945. And then I will discuss with you what took place once the Soviets and Americans decided to divide Korea on the 38th parallel. We will discuss the many factors that led to the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, and then discuss how the two Koreas went down their separate historical paths. We will talk about the economic development of South Korea, and how it became one of the strongest economies in the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsWe will also discuss the peculiar nature of the North Korean state and its many special features. We will then close with a discussion of some of the features of contemporary Korean society in the south. And hopefully, through this course, you'll be able to get an overview of the many special features of this particularly interesting country called Korea.

Welcome to the course

In this video Michael Kim introduces the course and sets out the topics for the next six weeks.


I hope you will find the material presented here useful for your understanding of modern Korean history. I will try to explain some of the complexities and fascinating aspects that I mind most engaging about this part of the world. I hope to raise some provocative questions and hear your responses to some of the historical interpretations that I present in this course.

During the course, you can work through the videos, read the articles and contribute to the discussions at your own pace. I will provide my own commentary and bring certain aspects of Korean history to your attention. Please feel free to comment at the end of every article. There will also be quizzes where you can test your knowledge about Korean history and more structured discussions where you can exchange your ideas.

Course mentors

I also want to introduce everyone to our two mentors Nikki Muyskens and Santosh Ranjan who are both my graduate students at the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei and major in Korean Studies. Nikki has a strong interest in the history of missionary activities in Korea and Santosh researches the interactions between Korea and India during the colonial period. You will get to know them over the weeks to come, and we are fortunate to have them assist us in keeping the course discussions going.

You may wish to follow Nikki and Santosh so that you can easily see their comments - click on their name, and then click the pink ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of their profile.

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This video is from the free online course:

Modern Korean History: Liberation, War and Nuclear Ambitions

Yonsei University

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

  • The outbreak of the Korean War
    The outbreak of the Korean War
    article

    This article describes the outbreak of the Korean War.

  • North Korean refugee problem
    North Korean refugee problem
    article

    One of the important consequences of the North Korean famine in the mid-1990s was the sudden increase in the number of refugees.

  • The Korean Wave
    The Korean Wave
    article

    The popularity of Korean popular culture abroad has made celebrities out of many Korean entertainers in Asian countries.