Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review Essay, Resources

A Brief History of Korea: Isolation, War, Despotism, and Revival: The Fascinating Story of a Resilient but Divided People

Michael Seth of James Madison University has a great deal of experience writing textbooks. His A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic to the Nineteenth Century was first published in 2006. It was revised and broken into two volumes: A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present (2009) and A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present (2010). Those volumes, published by Rowman & Littlefield, are still in print. In addition, Seth recently published ...

Feature Article

Christianity in Korea

The Republic of Korea is rather unique in terms of religion as, despite a high level of ethnic homogeneity, there is no single dominant religion. And while more than half of Koreans do not profess any religion, many will still engage in religious activities, such as consulting a shaman or offering incense and food to ancestors. But among those who do have a religious affiliation, Christianity is the most popular, which is rather remarkable considering that its appearance on the peninsula was fir...

Feature Article

Religious Diversity in Korea

Since the mid-1960s, when the gates for immigrants from Asia first opened wide in North America, more and more signs in Korean have appeared on the streets of both the US and Canada. Many of those signs advertise restaurants or shops selling Korean food. However, a significant percentage of those signs appear in front of church buildings and proclaim that a Korean congregation worships within. The overwhelming majority of those congregations are Protestant. A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum on Reli...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index to Teach Social Science: A Plan for a Facilitated Discussion

The Lowy Institute, one of Australia’s most well-regarded think tanks, released its second annual Asia Power Index in May 2019 (available at https://power.lowyinstitute.org). High school and college educators can use this resource to get students doing hands-on explorations of Asian political, military, economic, and diplomatic power using data. Students can learn about Asia while enhancing their data literacy and critical-thinking skills. This essay provides a plan for an interactive discussi...

Feature Article

My Students and Asia: Then and Now

[caption id="attachment_7187" align="alignleft" width="300"] Berea College. Source: Photo courtesy of the author. See endnote 2 for sources for information above. Berea College charges no tuition and admits only academically promising students, primarily from southern Appalachia, who lack the economic means to pay for an elite liberal arts college education. Ninety-six percent of Berea’s first-year students are eligible for federal Pell Grants, which typically go to students whose family incom...

Feature Article

The People Who Left the People’s Republic: A History of the North Korean Diaspora

Our primary questions are: Who are the people leaving the People’s Republic? When did they leave? Why did they leave? How many are there? The word “diaspora” is derived from the Greek word diaspeirein (to disperse) and relates to “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland.”1 What makes the application of this term special is that it is very emotional, as people indirectly associate it with the plight of Jewish or African sl...

Feature Article

Leaving North Korea: My Story

Editor’s note: What follows is a lightly edited version of a North Korean defector’s true story, which was originally a presentation at the AAS Committee on Teaching about Asia workshop for educators at George Washington University in March 2018. The author requested that her name not be published. I am a North Korean defector currently working as a research intern at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, located in Washington, DC. Before I begin talking about my personal sto...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Teaching East Asia: Korea Lessons and Resources for K–12 Classrooms

In my experience as a university professor, teaching Korean history, while enjoyable, has its challenges. While most students are curious and eager to learn, much of the material is foreign to their own experiences, and they even find themselves struggling with something so seemingly simple as names (how can anyone unfamiliar with the Korean language be expected to pronounce the names of Sin Saimdang, Seondeok, or Yi Sunshin correctly based purely on the romanization?). However, dedicated K–12...

Feature Article

A New North Korean Paradigm

US policy toward North Korea has undergone a seismic shift in the wake of the 2017 US presidential inauguration, from “strategic patience” to “strategic accountability.” The world has also borne witness to a darker side of that policy shift, characterized by an escalating war of words between the United States and North Korea, or more specifically between its two leaders. Bluster-filled news headlines (and Twitter feeds) with a tenor reminiscent of Cold War-era histrionics have become th...

Feature Article

North Korea’s Nuclear Challenge

North Korea, officially Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a family dynasty. The current leader, Kim Jong-un, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011, is only the third leader of the country since its founding in 1948 by Kim Il-sung. The division of the Korean peninsula into two separate countries in 1948 was perpetuated by the 1950–1953 Korean War. The two Koreas took different paths, and today, South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is one of the most dyn...

Feature Article

What Honors High School and Undergraduate Survey Instructors Should Know about North Korea’s Nuclear Threat

In October 2006, North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as it is officially known, detonated a small nuclear device. By the end of 2017, it had conducted four more nuclear weapons tests; the last on September 3, 2017, perhaps a hydrogen bomb, was capable of destroying a major city. It is the only country to have tested nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century. P’yŏngyang is also developing a missile delivery system that will be able to reach any part of the Uni...

Online Supplement

Dreaming, Making, and Breaking Family and Kinship in Contemporary South Korea

While South Korea makes headlines much more frequently nowadays for its vibrant and lucrative popular culture industry, until the 2000s, South Korea was known to outsiders first and foremost as a “family-centric” society. This family-centrism has been the underlying focus of a large number of Korean anthropological studies, covering “education fever,” extended family networks, hierarchical business culture, and ancestor worship. North Korea is also noticed for its family-centrism—namel...

Digital Asia

Podcasting Asia

A little over a decade ago, Apple updated their iTunes platform to allow free audio subscriptions through iTunes. Podcasts, a mash of the terms “iPod” (a device still much the rage in 2005) and “broadcast,” have since grown gradually in popularity, finally gaining momentum with mainstream audiences over the past few years with shows like Serial and The Moth. It is a flexible and therefore diverse format. Shows can range in length from a couple of minutes to over an hour. Many still co...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia in the World: An Introduction

East Asia in the World: An Introduction, edited by Anne Prescott, should be in every history teacher’s classroom. This slim text somehow manages to cover essential elements of Asian history, culture, economics, and politics, and provides a plethora of extension resources that correlate to each chapter. The text itself is high-level, and some chapters and sections may not be useful in the classroom without modifications, but as a teacher resource, this text is unmatched. As with other texts in ...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Tasting Soy Sauce, Teaching Culture: A Case for Experiential Learning

Imagine teaching a lively class where even the quietest student gets involved. When students sample soy sauces from all over Asia and even the heart of Kentucky, comments like “I didn’t know soy sauce had such flavor” and “I didn’t know we made soy sauce in America” pour out of students’ mouths. Tasting soy sauce is an interactive way of engaging students with Asian cultures and history. My discussion here concerns a course called China: Food and Cultures at the Culinary Institu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present

One result of the expanding interest in East Asian history, culture, and religious beliefs amongst non-Asian-language readers and learners is the production of valuable source-driven texts like Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present, edited by Margaret Childs and Nancy Hope. By specifically focusing on content derived from China, Japan, and Korea, the authors provide readers with a curated selection of translated primary source excerpt content arranged in chronolog...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Asia Pacific in World Politics, Second Edition

As students walk into Comparative Asian Politics on the first day of class, they see a quote projected on the screen: “East Asia is now widely regarded as the focus of the world’s attention.” It is shortly joined by a second quote, “Learning about contemporary Southeast Asia can be a challenge because the region is no longer a primary focus of international attention.” Students consider: Do these quotes contradict each other? Are they talking about the same region? What are the bases f...

Feature Article

Out of a War’s Ashes

A chance encounter drew me into the work of repatriating the remains of Korean men who died doing forced labor in Hokkaidō during the Asia–Pacific War. In 1989, I was engaged in field research for a doctoral dissertation on Japanese day care centers. People suggested that I visit the center directed by Tonohira Yoshihiko, chief priest of a rural Buddhist temple. There, I learned that Reverend Tonohira was also leading local volunteers excavating the remains of victims from wartime constructio...

Feature Article, Film Review Essay

So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War

Produced and Directed by David Plath D VD, 60 minutes, Color An MPG Production, 2016 Documentary available through Documentary Educational Resources beginning July 2017. Visit www.der.org to order a copy and for more information on the documentary Reviewed by Franklin Rausch So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War is a well-produced documentary that traces the finding, excavation, and repatriation in 2015 of the remains of 115 Korean conscript laborers whom the Japanese forced to work in...

Online Supplement

How Free Are Postcolonial Polities? Select Nation Profiles

Freedom House is an independent organization that advocates for increased freedom and democracy around the world. Partnering with frontline human rights activists to advance democratic change, Freedom House recognizes that freedom is only possible within the context of a democratic government that is accountable to its own people. Established in New York City in 1941, Freedom House has expanded to include offices in a dozen countries. Furthermore, among its goals include collaboration with li...

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