Starting this year, the Korean department in The Hebrew University will offer two new courses for the students to choose.

The first is “Crossing Borders: Korean-Japan: Cultural Relations.”

This is a seminar course for 3rd-year students from the Korean studies program and the Japanese program. It will offer students to learn about the political and cultural ties between Japan and Korea from pre-modern era to modern era, with an emphasis on the modern era. Japan and Korea have main roles in current East Asia which influence the world economy, politics, and defense-related issues. Their relations will be taught comparatively and historically to enhance the knowledge of their culture and society.

This course will be taught by Dr. Jooyeon Rhee, the head of the Korean Studies program. Dr. Rhee explores the relationship between gender and literature in colonial Korea. Her current main research examines crime fiction produced in colonial Korea. Her other research interests include gender and ethnic identity in Korean literature and visual culture, and literature of the Korean diaspora in Japan and the US. Her forthcoming book, The Novel in Transition: Literature and Gender in Colonial Korea, will be published by Cornell University Press (East Asia Series) in 2019 and her scholarly works appear in numerous journals including the Journal of Korean StudiesJournal of Popular Film and Television, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Acta Koreana, and Japan Focus among others.

The second is “Historical Memory in Korean Literature and Film.”

This course examines a body of scholalrly works, literature and films that deal with historical events of modern Korea. Korea has experienced intensely violent, yet highly dynamic social and political changes since the turn of the twentieth-century. Major historical events – such as the fall of the Confucian world order, economic and political exploitation under Japanese colonialism, the Korean War, the division between North and South Korea, the democratization movement, and the labour movement – hugely influenced the way Korean people view their own history, society and identity and the world. This course raises questions as to how certain moments of modern Korean history are remembered and contested; how the representation of cultural artifacts, literature and film shape historical memory; and how the representation can become a useful site to critique, nationalism, colonialism, national history and identity.

The third course is “Religions and Culture in Korea.”

It explores the unique and intriguing world of religion in Korea. It includes not only local the representation of the region’s traditions – Buddhism and Confucianism – but a wide and dynamic Shamanist movement, cults and a variety of new-religions, as well as the biggest and most active Protestant Christian movement in East Asia. This course will follow the history and philosophy of different religions in Korea at the intersections of economy, politics, education and popular culture of the Korea of today. Topics covered in this course include tourism in isolated Buddhist temples, Confucian influences on the North-Korean politics, sexual tendencies of Shamans, and Korean Christians’ love for Israel.

This course will be taught by Dr. Uri Kaplan, who received his M.A. from Yonsei University in Seoul and a Ph.D. in Asian religions from Duke University. His work on the encounters of Buddhism and Confucianism with modernity has been published in the Journal of Korean Studies, Material Religion, Contemporary Buddhism, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, Korean Studies, and Acta Koreana. He has completed a book manuscript dealing with Buddhist education in Korea, and is currently working on Buddhist apologetic literature in pre-modern China and Korea.