• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Gender Studies, History, Asian Studies, International Affairs, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ruth Barraclough
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Spring Session 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course is currently full. Please email cap.student@anu.edu.au to be added to the wait list.

North Korea is widely regarded as one of the world's most enigmatic countries, and as the greatest security threat to our region. The Australian and global media depict it as a country of missiles, phalanxes of marching soldiers, all-powerful leaders and bizarre political ideologies. This course goes beyond the media images to explore the political history, culture and everyday life of North Korea. Drawing upon unparalleled expertise in history, politics, cultural studies and gender politics at the ANU, this course will evaluate key events in North East Asian history to more fully account for the current social and political crisis in North Korea. We will investigate pivotal events of the Cold War in Northeast Asia and consider issues such as changing lifestyles, environmental challenges, the rise of the informal market and migration to and from North Korea, and will end with some reflections on possible futures. As well as conventional sources the course will also make use of North Korean music, literature and film to give further insight into the country's past, present and future.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon completion of this course, student should be able to:

1. Formulate an understanding of the Northern Region before the emergence of the North Korean state.

2. Explain and critique the origins of communism in Korea.

3. Develop an understanding of the international history that has shaped North Korean state and society.

4. Understand social and political changes that have taken place since the end of the Cold War.

5. Evaluate the gender politics of the regime and society.

6. Analyse North Korean cultural products and critically examine the recent commodification boom in North Korean "stuff" in tourism, films, media exposes and art exhibitions.

7. Critically evaluate the regional stakeholders in the North Korean crisis.

Other Information

Due to the intensive nature of the course and other logistical factors, ASIA2096 has an enrolment maximum of 80 students. The course is currently full, but students interested in enrolling are encouraged to email cap.student@anu.edu.au to be added to the wait list. Students who need to complete the course to meet the requirements of a major or minor in order to graduate will be given priority to enrol.  A permission code from the CAP Student Office is required prior to any new enrolment.

Students will be expected to read some course materials posted to Wattle, prior to the start of the face-to-face component. 

The face-to-face component of this course will run from 10am to 5pm, on the following days:

Monday 19 – Friday 23 November
Monday 26 – Friday 30 November

Please check the ANU Timetable for the venue. 

The wattle site will be released to students on Monday 5 November. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 24 units of university courses.

Prescribed Texts

Andrei Lankov, From Stalin to Kim Il Sung: The Formation of North Korea, 1945-1960, Rutgers University Press, 2002. 

Suk-Young Kim, Illusive Utopia: Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea , University of Michigan Press, 2010. 

Preliminary Reading

Book Review Essay  (1000 words) 20%
Research Essay (2000 words) 30%
Class presentation 10%
Class participation 10% 
Final Exam 30% 

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007. 

Charles Armstrong, Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992, Cornell University Press, 2013. 

Suzy Kim, Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950, Cornell University Press, 2013. 

Heonik Kwon and Byung-Ho Chung, North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. 

Don Oberdorfer and Robert Carlin. 2014. The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (New York: Basic Books, Revised and Updated Third Edition).




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $2820
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4320
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Spring Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9728 19 Nov 2018 20 Nov 2018 23 Nov 2018 30 Nov 2018 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions