Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Feature Article

Back in Time: Pictures Worth More than 1,000 Words

These photographs of Northeast Asia from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries give people today a window on the economic, environmental, and geopolitical context of the time. This essay introduces some of the early photographs from Japan, Korea, and adjacent lands—scenes that families in the US viewed with the aid of the right-eye, left-eye lenses of the viewstand, or stereograph, so they could enjoy a vivid 3-D experience—to learn about lands that were then unknown to them. ...

Essay, Key Issues in Asian Studies, Resources

Three New Volumes: Key Issues in Asian Studies

Editor’s note: Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) is a series of booklets engaging major cultural and historical themes in the Asian experience. KIAS booklets serve as vital educational materials that are both accessible and affordable for classroom use. This series is particularly intended for teachers and undergraduates at two- and four-year colleges as well as high school students and secondary school teachers engaged in teaching Asian studies in a comparative framework. What follows are br...

Feature Article

North Korea’s 1990s Famine in Historical Perspective

North Korea suffered from a horrific famine in the mid and late 1990s. The immediate cause of the North Korean famine was the widespread flooding in August 1995 that destroyed much of the nation’s rice crop. The summer monsoon rains that come each year were especially heavy. Starting on June 26, it rained for ten days, dumping as much as twenty-three inches on parts of the country. Satellite photos suggest that a quarter of the nation’s rice paddies were under water. (note 1) The dimensions ...

Book Review, Resources

North Korean Posters: The David Heather Collection

DAVID HEATHER AND KOEN DE CEUSTER NEW YORK: PRESTELP UBLISHING, 2008 288 PAGES, ISBN: 978-3791339672, PAPERBACK Raw emotions, shockingly bright colors, and stylistically real design—if it weren’t for the subject matter, at first glance some students might believe they were thumbing through manga or a graphic novel. But a closer look at North Korean Posters, written by David Heather and Koen De Ceuster, reveals much more than fiction. Heather’s extensive collection of socialist-rea...

Book Review, Resources

To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea

BY TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI NEW YORK: ROWMAN& LITTLEFIELD, 2010 216 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442205031, HARDBACK Retracing the steps of historical travelers has become a popular scaffolding for travel, adventure, and historical narratives. This device allows the writer to present a region through the double vision of her own perceptions and those of the historical figure. The reader benefits from two sets of insights, each filtered through a different personality, each reacting to the same region a...

Book Review, Resources

Modern East Asia

BY JONATHAN LIPMAN, BARBARA MOLONY, AND MICHAEL ROBINSON NEW YORK: PRENTICE HALL, 2011 480 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0-321-23490-2, PAPERBACK Modern East Asia is an engaging East Asia history textbook that offers a new approach to the topic and is suitable for both high school and postsecondary classes. It focuses on the history of China, Japan, and Korea (including North Korea and Taiwan) from 1600 to the present, with roughly two-thirds of the book devoted to the past 150 years. Readers, particularl...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Korean Culture and History through Korean Literature

“What am I looking for? Soul, my blind soul, endlessly darting like children at play by the river, answer me: where am I going?” (note 1) Written in response to Japan’s occupation of Korea (1910–1945), these lines from nationalist writer Yi Sanghwa’s poem convey a deep sense of desperation and uncertainty. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and set up a colonial government that would remain in power for thirty-five years. Yi’s poem expresses the alienation Koreans endured bec...

Online Supplement

Educating Students about Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Exposing students to APEC offers them opportunities to learn about a significant and innovative cooperative association of twenty-one member economies that collectively account for 45 percent of global population, land mass, economic product, and external trade. Its administrative structure is so innovative that it permits the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong (as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC), and Taiwan (as Chinese Taipei) to cooperate as APEC member economies. The followin...

Book Review Essay, Resources

A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-first Century

BY CHARLES HOLCOMBE NEW YORK: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-521-51595-5, HARDBACK; ISBN 978-0-52173164-5 PAPER Charles Holcombe has given instructors of East Asian history courses and world history teachers a welcome gift: his book, A History of East Asia. This volume is packed with both information and insights. The author provides interesting facts that will spice up lectures and illuminating statistics that will give students a vivid sense of East Asia’s size a...

Feature Article

The Korean War 101: Causes, Course, and Conclusion of the Conflict

North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, igniting the Korean War. Cold War assumptions governed the immediate reaction of US leaders, who instantly concluded that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had ordered the invasion as the first step in his plan for world conquest. “Communism,” President Harry S. Truman argued later in his memoirs, “was acting in Korea just as [Adolf] Hitler, [Benito] Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier.” If North Korea...

Feature Article

The U.S. as a Pacific Nation

America’s Pacific Presence On his inaugural visit to Asia as president in November 2009, Barack Obama declared himself “America’s first Pacific president” and the US a “Pacific nation.”(note 1) President Obama’s self-characterization, based no doubt on his unusual biography of having been born in Hawai`i and partly raised in Indonesia, is novel. Identifying the US as a Pacific nation, however, is a longstanding tradition, increasingly common today and one that resonates for many r...

Book Review, Resources

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

BY BLAINE HARDEN NEW YORK: VIKING, 2012 224 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0670023325, HARDBACK This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” p...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction from Korea

BRUCE FULTON, EDITOR ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, KORYO PRESS, 2011 250 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1597432030, PAPERBACK As a teacher of world literature to high school seniors, I have experimented with many works in translation, attempting to introduce unfamiliar cultures through story. When the references are too vague or the background too intimidating, students close the book before they give the literature (and sometimes the culture) a chance. That is why Waxen Wings is a welcome work. While Korean reader...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Korean Politics through Cinema

Korean studies in the US have experienced a tremendous growth over the last decade in undergraduate institutions, as well as in some high schools. The numerical surge of Korean heritage students interested in learning their cultural background, the rising popularity of pop culture originating from South Korea, the frequency of North Korea appearing in the media headlines, and the aggressive expansion of funding by the Korean government may have all contributed to the enlarged visibility of Korea...

Feature Article

Bringing Students into the World: Asia in the World Literature Classroom

The term Weltliteratur (world literature) was first coined by German author Johann Wilhelm von Goethe in the late 1820s. Writing during a period of great political upheaval in Europe, he hopefully noted: There has been talk for some time of a general world literature, and indeed not without justice. For the nations, after they had been thrown into confusion by the most terrible wars [ie, the Napoleonic Wars], could not return to their independent life again without noticing that they had uncon...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Values Lesson Plan: How Currency Reveals Cultural Values

King Sejong is the most well-known and celebrated ruler in Korean history. Even though he lived more than 500 years ago, the Korean people continue to honor him for his relentless efforts to improve the lives of the common people. He governed with compassion and wisdom and led Korea into a golden age of cultural and scientific progress. In his youth, Sejong became known as “the reading prince” and began his lifelong quest to learn everything he could about the world around him. At the age...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using Korean Bojagi in the Classroom

Bojagi: An Introduction Bojagi (sometime written pojagi) is a traditional Korean folk art consisting of patchwork cloths made from scrap fabrics such as cotton, silk, ramie, and hemp. These practical cloths of varying sizes were present in Korea as early as the fourteenth century and were used to cover and contain items such as gifts, beds, tables, and foods. The art has historically been passed down through generations of unnamed female artists and were used by Korean people from all classes, ...

Feature Article

New Media in Korea and Japan: Emergent Trends

Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea henceforth) have highly developed mobile and broadband Internet infrastructures and enthusiastic, innovative mobile media cultures. Japan pioneered new forms of communication and entertainment, and Japanese society still produces startling innovations in the use of technology, for example, using robots as surrogate pets and as nursing attendants. South Korea has more recently overtaken Japan and everyone else to enjoy the world’s best Internet servi...

Book Review, Resources

Tears of Blood: A Korean POW’s Fight for Freedom, Family, and Justice

Tears of Blood: A Korean POW’s Fight for Freedom, Family, and Justice by Young-Bok Yoo is a riveting, highly readable, and concise account of a survivor of the Korean War who suffered harsh imprisonment and forty-seven years of extreme hardship in North Korea until he escaped to freedom in South Korea at age seventy. Young-Bok Yoo’s narrative brings to life not only the chaos and suffering experienced by Koreans during the Korean War but also informs the reader about an aspect of the war tha...

Feature Article, Focus on Korea: Economic Giant

A Commentary on Economic Education in the ROK and the U.S.

Editor’s Note: Tawni Ferrarini, a prominent American economic educator who has worked on Korea, was invited to contribute the following comparative commentary. Professor Ferrarini  is the Sam M. Cohodas Professor of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at Northern Michigan University (NMU). In her work, she focuses upon the use of classroom technology and the integration of economics across subjects, settings and, countries. In 2012, the Council for Economic Education honore...