Colonial Korea in Historical Perspective
Comprehensive Unit

Grade Level

Secondary

Published

2012 (169 pages)

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Colonial Korea Cover Image

The experience of the Korean peninsula under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945 constitutes an important part of global history, especially considering the extent to which colonial legacies continue to shape current relations in East Asia and beyond. Drawing heavily upon a wealth of various primary sources from both Korea and Japan—especially images and oral histories—this curriculum unit seeks to contribute to a more balanced understanding of the global history of colonialism by providing an in-depth examination of the history of the Korean peninsula under Japanese rule. 

After an introduction to the concepts of imperialism and colonialism, students examine Japan’s initial colonization of the Korean peninsula in 1910, exploring why Japan colonized Korea, how this act was justified by the colonizers, and what the empire did in order to sustain and strengthen its colonial rule. Second, students examine various vignettes reflecting aspects of daily life and education under Japanese rule. As historians-in-training, students analyze and assess primary sources to critically address the changes brought by specific colonial policies and identify particularities and distinctive characteristics that are found in the case of colonial Korea.

Lesson One introduces the background and context of colonialism as it shaped the encounter between Korea and Japan in the modern period.

Lesson Two examines colonial policies and practices and explores the impact they had on political, economic, social, cultural, and educational life in Korea.

Lesson Three engages students in a substantial comparative analysis of history textbook narratives on colonial Korea.

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