Hey all, if I managed to not to bore you too much with the last blog, your in luck as this will be the second half of ‘What I learnt this summer’, in which I’ll be talking about my other seminar at Sogang, seminar 4.
Seminar 4 was a more familiar blend of history and politics. At first I only thought I was going to be a politics module due to the description given in the brochure not really being forthcoming about the history aspect of the course. Typical, that just when I thought I could leave history behind until third year, it seems to rear its head once more. Anyway, the first half of seminar 4 was a politics/ international relations style module, exploring a variety of different politics issue for U.S. and South Korean policy-makers within the Korean peninsula, looking at issues such as the reunification of Korea, North Korean nuclear brinkmanship and the rise in South Korean anti-Americanism.
By far, this has been my favourite module of the summer school and has really made be consider looking into cheating of history and studying international relations for a masters. The class was really interactive and it was a change to study a topic that is happening today and can be researched using CNN and the BBC website, rather than a 500 page text book published in 1978. Most fun of all was the class debates on all manner of topics discussed in class. Unsurprisingly, it was the issue of North Korea that proved the most controversial and by the end of the classes, it was hard not to want to voice your opinion. Again, I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this class, especially because it proved so accessible even as a history student talking about international relations.
My final class, and the other half of seminar 4, was been a the history of U.S.-Korea history through the lens of Korean immigration to Hawaii. Despite not really wanting to do yet more history after my second year exams, I have to admit the content of the course has been rather interesting. Though I personally don’t like immigration history ( I avoided that third option module like the plague), I was surprised to find how entangled the immigration to Hawaii was with much wider issue such as Japanese imperialism and the fall of the Choseon dynasty under King Kojong. In fact, learning about topics such as picture brides has almost made me want to change my dissertation.
But while I can’t deny the content has been really interesting, the style of teaching has made me appreciate my lecturers at Leicester. I am not here to lie to you and must admit Leicester has its problems, such as the fact you’ll be fight to the death over textbooks before assignment days and probably have to wait a month before your essay is returned. But in regards to the teaching, almost all the class I have had at Leicester have had a good style of teaching and a manageable amount of work if you bother to apply yourself.
In Sogang, meanwhile, I was no so enthralled on account of having to spend two hours simply listening to the reading being regurgitated to me in a hot class room for the duration of the course. Factor in an obscene amount of reading as well ( 5 whole books in around 4 weeks) and you can begin to see why I am so annoyed, especially considering that I don’t even do as much work for my degree. In many respects, it has been more like antiquarianism than history (just wait until your second year to find out why that isn’t a good thing) and its a shame as I missed the ability to interpret history rather than just repeat it.
Anyway that concludes the summary of what I have been studying for the past five weeks and I am sorry if I bored you too much with my incessant drivel. If anyone has a burning desire to learn more about the topics I discussed or if you want to know more about what it was like to study these topics feel free to comment in the box. For anyone one interested, I will also be writing a blog about what it was like to be a foreign student in Sogang Univeristy and Korea within the next week.
Korean immigration or Nuclear Brinkmanship or about the style of teaching in Korea,