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Korea and the United States 1882-Present, Spring/Winter 2021

Times: M/W/F, 12:05 - 12:55 PM CT. 1:05 - 1:55 PM ET

Instructor: David Fields (

Hosting University: University of Wisconsin

Description:  Ties between the United States and the Korean Peninsula are contentious, complex, and often confusing. The Korean peninsula is home to one of the United States closest allies, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and one of its more bombastic antagonists, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). While the history of US relations with the Korean peninsula are still shaped by the ongoing Korean War, the relationship is much older and the major players in the relationship are more diverse than soldiers and generals. This course will examine US relations with the Korean peninsula from their beginnings in the 19th century through their transformation in the 1950s and up to the present day. This course will survey the issues and questions that have shaped and continue to shape Korean views of the United States and vice-versa: Why do many Koreans view the US as complicit in the Japanese colonization of Korea? How did Korea become a place of such fascination for American missionaries in the 1910s? Why was Korea divided in the summer of 1945? Why did communism flourish on one half of the peninsula and capitalism on the other? What accounts for the rapid economic development of the ROK and the continuing authoritarianism of the DPRK? What role, if any, has the United States played in these developments?

Participating Universities: University of Maryland & University of Illinois