The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) offers a major and minor in East Asian Languages and Cultures that allows cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of East Asia. Students can choose either to focus in one of our three linguistic and cultural traditions — Chinese, Japanese, and Korean — or to explore different traditions and societies by taking courses in multiple regions. Our major opens up career opportunities in diplomacy, business, law, journalism, and higher education, in addition to providing preparation for further study in the relevant languages and cultures. The major entails advanced training in the chosen language and a sound background in the respective literature and culture. Students are encouraged to enhance their cultural knowledge by enrolling in relevant courses offered through other departments and programs such as Anthropology, Art History, Film and Media Studies, History, Global Studies, Performing Arts, and Religious Studies.
For information about the major, please visit the EALC Majors page.
For information about the minor, please visit the EALC Minors page.
Language Placement: Placement tests are required for all students entering our language programs, with the exception of those students who have had no previous exposure to the language and wish to enroll in the first semester of the first year of instruction. Students who test into second-year Korean and satisfactorily complete (with a grade of B- or better) at least one semester of language study may petition for 3 units of retroactive credit; students who test into third year or above and satisfactorily complete (with a grade of B- or better) at least one semester of language study may petition for 6 units of retroactive credit. Retroactive credit is limited to 3 units for those testing into second year and 6 units for those testing into the third year or above. Please note that students with native language proficiency (as determined by the Korean language section) as well as students who enroll in courses below their placement level are ineligible for retroactive credit units. Students who misrepresent their language proficiency so as to gain entrance into a course at the elementary or intermediate level will be dropped from that course.
For information about the East Asian Languages and Cultures major, please visit the EALC Majors page.
For information about the East Asian Languages and Cultures minor, please visit the EALC Minors page.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L51 Korean.
L51 Korean 107 Basic Korean I
Basic Korean I is designed to develop students' basic proficiency in all four language skill areas, listening, speaking, reading, and writing, while fostering intercultural competence. Students will improve their Korean communication skills by engaging in various interactive activities throughout the course. The topics covered in the class include self-introduction, describing surroundings, discussing daily activities, and engaging in conversations about familiar objects and people. The course introduces relevant cultural topics to enrich students' understanding of Korean culture and language. This 3-credit, slower-paced course meets three times per week and requires less time commitment than the 5-credit course (L51 117). Upon completing Basic Korean I in the spring semester, students can enroll in Basic Korean II in the fall semester. After successfully finishing Basic Korean II, students can advance to First-Level Modern Korean II (L51 118) in the subsequent spring semester. It is important to note that Basic Korean I and Basic Korean II do not fulfill the language sequence requirement nor the two-semester language requirement for the EALC minor.
L51 Korean 108 Basic Korean II
Basic Korean II is the second course in the slower-paced Basic Korean language sequence. This course focuses on developing proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, while also fostering intercultural competence. Students will participate in various interactive activities to develop their proficiency. Topics covered include describing surroundings, discussing daily activities such as school, shopping, extracurricular activities, and describing past and future events. The course also introduces relevant cultural topics to deepen students' understanding of Korean culture and language. After completing Basic Korean II, students can enroll in First-Level Modern Korean II (L51 118) in the spring semester. It is important to note that Basic Korean 1 and Basic Korean 2 do not fulfill the language sequence requirement, nor the two-semester language requirement for the EALC minor. Prerequisite: L51 107 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 117D First-Level Modern Korean I
This course is an introduction to Korea's modern spoken and written language, designed for students with no prior background or minimal exposure to the language without any literacy skills. The course emphasizes developing proficiencies in all four areas of language functions, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing, specifically focusing on accurate pronunciation, basic grammar, and communicative and intercultural competence. Throughout the course, students will work towards the following objectives: gaining the ability to say greetings, tell time, and carry on basic conversations in classrooms, stores, and various social situations related to daily life, family, and school in all time frames (present, past, and future). In addition, the course aims to help students understand Korean culture as reflected in the language. Students with some previous Korean language background must take the placement exam. Note: Students with some previous Korean language background must take the placement examination.
L51 Korean 118D First-Level Modern Korean II
This course is a continuation of the first level beginning Korean course, focusing on acquiring communicative and grammatical skills in speaking, writing, and reading through active participation. The curriculum includes Interactive activities that enhance learning experiences and foster communicative and intercultural competence. By the end of the course, students will acquire basic vocabulary, accurate pronunciation, and reading and writing skills with appropriate grammar. They will be able to participate in conversations related to school, classes, social life, family, phone conversations, travel, shopping, and restaurants. Additionally, the course aims to help students understand Korean culture reflected in the language. Prerequisite: L51 117D (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 150 First-Year Seminar: Exploring East Asian Classics
This first-year seminar introduces students to major works of the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions. Although written centuries in the past, these texts still reverberate with meaning today and offer important means to understand the often chaotic and confusing events occurring daily around us. What is the self? What is the relationship between the individual and society? How do we live an ethical life? What is literature and for whom is it intended? In grappling with these questions, students will directly engage with the texts through close reading and in-class discussion. Students will, at the same time, also ask broader questions that concern how knowledge is produced, spread, and consumed: what is a canon? Who are the gatekeepers? What does it mean to approach East Asia through a set of "canonical" texts? Among the texts considered will be The Analects, Daodejing, Lotus Sutra, Tale of Genji, Tales of the Heike, Tales of Moonlight and Rain, Samguk yusa, and Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. Prerequisite: first-year, non-transfer students only.
Same as L04 Chinese 150
L51 Korean 217 Second-Level Modern Korean I
This class is designed for students who have successfully finished First Level Modern Korean I & II and those with equivalent proficiency. The course will continue to emphasize the development of cultural competency in Korean language and culture and communicative skills in speaking, listening, writing, and reading. By the end of this course, students will be able to engage in conversation on personal experiences and topics related to lessons in class, develop accurate pronunciation and intonation, further develop their reading and writing skills in Korean texts, and gain a deeper understanding of Korean culture as reflected in the language. Prerequisite: L51 118D (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 218 Second-Level Modern Korean II
This class is designed for students who have completed Second Level Modern Korean I or have equivalent proficiency. The course's main objective is to continue developing cultural competency in Korean language and culture while further developing students' communicative skills in speaking, listening, writing, and reading. By the end of the course, students will be able to engage in expanded conversations on personal experiences and topics related to class lessons, constructing coherent and complete sentences. Additionally, students focus on improving their pronunciation and intonation, developing their reading and writing skills to engage with simple Korean texts effectively, and gaining a deeper understanding of Korean culture as reflected in the language. Prerequisite: L51 217 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 223C Korean Civilization
This course introduces Korean civilization from earliest times to the present. While a broad survey, the course emphasizes cultural themes and social institutions, and explores the Korean past in East Asian and global perspectives. To help with building this comprehensive view, the class follows a chronological progression of history using a textbook. But throughout, students also learn from diverse media-including film, drama, music, games, and primary historical sources-to make their own sense of Korea and Korean culture. In terms of methodology, the class adopts various approaches, from source criticism and material studies to critically engaging modern-day representations of Korea in print and new media. Some of the topics covered include: foundation myths, ancient literature, colonialism, civil war, authoritarianism, rapid industrialization, and democratization in Korea.
L51 Korean 298 Korean Undergraduate Teaching Assistants
In this course undergraduate students with native or near native proficiency in Korean assist in the first, second, and third level modern Korean language classes by serving as one-on-one session tutor, lab drill and practice session tutor, or discussion leader under close supervision of the faculty. Students can only enroll in the class with permission from the faculty member.
Credit 1 unit.
L51 Korean 2980 Undergraduate Internship in Korean
Students receive credit for a faculty-directed and approved internship. Registration requires the completion of the Learning Agreement, which the student obtains from the Career Center and which must be filled out and signed by the Career Center and the faculty sponsor prior to beginning internship work. Credit should correspond to actual time spent in work activities (e.g., 8 to 10 hours a week for 13 or 14 weeks to receive 3 units of credit; 1 or 2 credits for fewer hours). Credit/no credit only. Prerequisite: permission of department or DUS.
Credit variable, maximum 3 units.
L51 Korean 299 Independent Study
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
Credit variable, maximum 6 units.
L51 Korean 3250 Topics in Early Modern Korea: Guns, Tobacco, and Sweet Potato: A History of Material Culture
This course is an introduction to both material culture studies and early modern Korea, through the use of compelling objects-from guns and ceramics, to drugs, foods, and artwork-as an entry point into Korean cultural history (with a focus on the period between 1592 and 1910). It starts with objects in times of crises, from the matchlock guns which wreaked havoc across the Korean peninsula, to the ondol heated floors which warmed Korean homes through the Little Ice Age. Then, it delves into a period of cultural efflorescence, when new material cultures emerged, by the hands of Buddhist papermakers, up-and-coming chungin ("middle people") painters, and aristocratic women. It ends with stories from the nineteenth century, when these "Korean" material cultures became closely entangled with their foreign counterparts-especially Western European-and how they were put on display at the world's fairs and expositions around the globe-in Japan, Chicago, Hanoi, and Paris. The overarching questions that run throughout the course are: What is material culture? How does the "material turn" change the nature of humanistic inquiry and expand the horizons of Korean/cultural studies? How may attention to "things" transform our understanding of the past and present, ourselves, and of the material world that we inhabit today?
Same as L81 EALC 3250
L51 Korean 3340 Topics in East Asian Religions: The Lotus Sutra in East Asia: Buddhism, Art, Literature
This course is an introduction to the Lotus Sutra, the most popular and influential scripture in the history of East Asian Buddhism. After a close reading of the entire text and a discussion of its major ideas, it's contextualized within the history of Buddhism and, more broadly, of East Asia, by examining its contributions to thought, ritual, literature and art in China, Korea and Japan, from its first translations into literary Chinese - the canonical language of East Asian Buddhism - to modern times. Topics covered include: the ontological status of the Lotus and, more broadly, of Mahayana scriptures; commentarial traditions on the meaning of the Lotus and its place within Mahayana Buddhism; practices associated to the worship of the Lotus - e.g., copying, reciting, burying; the worship of buddhas and bodhisattvas appearing in the sutra; Lotus-inspired poetry, and visual and material culture; Lotus-centered Buddhist traditions. Readings (all in English) are drawn from Buddhist scriptures and commentaries, tale literature, hagiographic narratives, poetry, archeological materials, and other literary genres. Given the importance that the Lotus has played in East Asia, this course functions broadly as an introduction to East Asian Buddhism. Previous coursework on Buddhism or East Asia is recommended but not required, and no prior knowledge of any East Asian languages is required.
Same as L81 EALC 3340
L51 Korean 340 Writing New Horizons: Explorers, Envoys, and Other Encounters in Korean Travel Narratives
Whether physical or imagined, travel evokes notions of center, periphery, boundary and identity that shape the world we live in. This seminar course uses travelogues as well as literary, visual and cinematic representations of travels relating to Korea to explore how travel, art and imagination together help constitute one's sense of place. The course approaches travel from three angles. First, it examines writings by Korean authors on domestic, interregional, and international travels from premodern to modern times. Such works offer a frame for tracing conceptualizations of self and other through topics including diaspora, refugee crisis, migrant workers, political exile, prisoners of war, and others. The course also looks at stories of travel to Korea by non-Korean authors in order to see how "Korea" was perceived in various times by people outside the country. Lastly, through imagined journeys typically labelled as "sci-fi" or "fantasy", it examines notions of "truthful" and "realistic," and considers the function of the fantastic and storytelling and their relation to the world we live in. For their final project, students will create a map of real or fictional travels based on material covered in class. Using Digital Humanities tools such as StoryMaps (ArcGIS), Carto, or MyMaps (Google), they will also produce itineraries and narratives to accompany the maps, and present these results online. Necessary technical assistance will be provided by the GIS team at Olin Library throughout the semester. All reading in English. Prior knowledge of Korean language or culture may be helpful but is not required.
Same as L81 EALC 340
L51 Korean 352 Literature of Modern and Contemporary Korea
This undergraduate course surveys the major writers and works of 20th century Korean literature. During the 20th century Korea went through a radical process of modernization. From its colonization by Japan, to its suffering of a civil war within the cold war order, to its growth into a cultural and economic powerhouse, Korea's historical experience is at once unique and typical of that of a third-world nation. By immersing themselves in the most distinctive literary voices from Korea, students examine how the Korean experience of modernization was filtered through its cultural production. The course pays special attention to the writers' construction of the self and the nation. How do social categories such as ethnicity, class, gender, and race figure in the varying images of the self? And how do these images relate to the literary vision of the nation? Along the way, students observe the prominent ideas, themes, and genres of Korean literature. This class combines lecture with discussion, in which students are strongly encouraged to participate. All literary texts are in English translation and no previous knowledge of Korean is required.
L51 Korean 355 Topics in Korean Literature and Culture
Topics course on Korean literature and culture. Subject matter varies by semester; consult current semester listings for topic.
L51 Korean 365 Topics in Modern Korean Literature
A topics course on modern Korean literature. Subject matter varies by semester; consult current semester listings for topic.
L51 Korean 370 When Tigers Smoke: Songs and Stories from Traditional Korea
This course has two purposes: (1) to introduce major works and topics in Korean classical literature and the cultural world in which they were produced and (2) to explore modern reimaginings of these historical works and events and wider context through contemporary literature and film. The former involves a journey through various genres, including foundation myths, songs, biographies, essays, poetry, fiction, memoirs, letters and oral performance, all produced before the 20th century. For a modern perspective, the course turns to films, dramas, cartoons and short stories, which serve as the basis for discussing the modern recreations of historical events, characters, and Korean culture more broadly. In addition to details of the works themselves, topics will include Korea's place in the context of a Sino-centric world order; the significance of two writing systems, hanmun (literary Chinese) and han'gul (Korean vernacular writing); gender and literary practice; and the dynamic relationship between tradition and creativity. No knowledge of Korean history or language is required. All readings in English.
L51 Korean 3750 Imagined Pasts: Traditional Korea through Film
This course is an introduction to traditional Korean culture through a selection of contemporary South Korean feature films and dramas. Films and dramas with historical themes have been very popular in Korea and across the globe. As powerful representations of the past, these contents have not just made Korean culture more accessible, but posed new issues and problems in learning about that culture. This course sets out to examine the content of historical films and dramas, investigating how "true" or "false" their representation of the past is, how they imagine and invent that past, and the ways they are useful-and not-in better understanding Korean culture and history. Some of the topics to be introduced are: kingship and court culture; Confucianism; social structure and people on the margin; gender relations and family; war and violence; science and technology; food and medicine; and the quotidian lives of people. This is also a media literacy course and students learn to engage critically with period pieces by writing comparative film essays and historical film critiques/scripts.
Same as L81 EALC 3750
L51 Korean 390 EALC Seminar: Screening East Asia: From Scroll Painting to Haptic Interface
This course introduces students to East Asian media cultures by focusing on a specific topic: the "screen." Students will explore how screen is not only an architectural construct (the painted screen) or a projection surface, but an electronic display, interface, or game console. Through examining a selection of scroll paintings, films, and digital artworks in Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, they will learn to be attentive to the material, infrastructural, and formal conditions of how mass media is produced, exhibited, and consumed. Other media objects and phenomena to be discussed include manga and anime, console games, advertising walls, immersive installations, TikTok/Douyin short videos, digital filters and selfies, touch-based interfaces, among others. The class will also scrutinize the employment of the screen as motifs and metaphors in East Asian visual cultures and discuss how these metaphors and motifs negotiate questions of national identity, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, socialism/post-socialism, colonialism/post-colonialism, global expansion of capitalism. This class will also offer students a chance to explore multimedia productions as a new mode of critical thinking and creative expression. This course is primarily for sophomores and juniors with a major or minor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures. Other students may enroll with permission. No prior knowledge of East Asia is required.
Same as L81 EALC 3900
L51 Korean 417 Third-Level Modern Korean I
This course is designed for students who have completed L51 Korean 217 & 218 (Second Level Modern Korean I & II) or those with equivalent proficiency. The course aims to further develop students' communicative competence and proficiency in speaking, listening, writing, and reading while deepening their understanding of Korean culture at the high intermediate level. Throughout the course, students will develop the cultural and linguistic understanding necessary to communicate for various personal and social purposes. By the end of the course, students will be able to participate in detailed conversations on various familiar topics such as travel, leisure activities, health, traditions, holidays, and beliefs using complex sentences. Students can expect to read simple articles and write essays of 250-350 words. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 218 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 418 Third-Level Modern Korean II
This course is intended for students who have completed L51 Korean 417 (Korean III) or have an equivalent level of proficiency. The primary goal of the course is to enhance students' communicative competence and proficiency in speaking, listening, writing, and reading while also deepening their understanding of Korean culture at the high intermediate level. By the end of the course, students will be able to participate in detailed conversations on various familiar and unfamiliar topics and social situations in a culturally appropriate manner. They will also be able to comprehend main ideas and supporting details in non-complex aural and written stories across various contexts and read articles, narrative, and descriptive texts. Students will also be able to describe, explain, and compare using structures and vocabulary items at the high intermediate level in writing and speaking. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 417 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 420 Nature, Technology, and Medicine in Korea
This course examines the cultural history of modern Korea with a focus on science, technology, and medicine. From about 1500 to the present, a number of hugely consequential things happened in Korea that have been called revolutionary-or what historians dub "early modern" and "modern." Confucian kings planned large-scale projects that changed nature, rustic scholars made inventories of flora and fauna, colonial Koreans became biologists, nurses, and "Edisons," and in North and South Korea, new professionals created distinctive-and in some cases, globally-competitive-regimes of knowing, making, and healing. Students will interrogate these developments as an opportunity to revisit the history of modernity, which has been told predominantly from the perspective of the West. What does it mean to be "modern" in Korea? How did that modernity intersect with Korean science, technology, and medicine? Students will find and articulate their own answers by writing the final research paper. Recommended to have taken Korean Civilization or equivalent course that provides basic working knowledge of Korean history. Course also counts as an EALC capstone course. Prerequisite: junior level or above or permission of instructor.
Same as L81 EALC 420
L51 Korean 427 Fourth-Level Modern Korean I
This course is intended for students who have completed the Third Level Modern Korean I & II or possess equivalent proficiency. The course's main objective is to develop student's language skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, with a greater emphasis on reading and writing while enhancing their understanding of Korean culture. The class explores various topics related to Korea and Korean culture, utilizing a primary textbook and a range of authentic materials such as newspaper articles, literature, films, and video clips that are relevant to the topics. Through these materials, students will be able to express their ideas convincingly and precisely in Korean on Korea-related topics. Additionally, students will work on improving their Korean proficiency in vocabulary and hanja (Chinese characters) at an advanced level and perfecting their sentence structure for oral and written communication in various formats. By the end of the course, students will have developed advanced-level language skills, a deeper understanding of Korean culture, and the ability to communicate their ideas in Korean effectively. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 418 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 428 Fourth-Level Modern Korean II
This course aims to help students enhance their Korean language proficiency and knowledge of Korean culture, history, and society to an advanced level. Throughout the course, students will participate in various activities, such as discussions, presentations, and reading and writing exercises based on materials such as movies and readings that provide rich cultural, historical, and sociopolitical information about Korea. Additionally, using authentic materials throughout the course provides students with opportunities to be exposed to the authentic Korean language in various situations. Students will continue to expand their advanced-level vocabulary and hanja (Chinese character) knowledge and refine their sentence structure skills for effective oral and written communication in various formats. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 427 (grade of B- or better) or placement by examination.
L51 Korean 437 Contemporary Korean I: Translation Workshop
This is an advanced to high-advanced level Korean course in standard modern Korean. Emphasis is placed on developing an advanced level of reading proficiency in Korean and writing ability in Korean for an academic or professional purpose. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 428 (grade of B- or better) or permission of instructor.
L51 Korean 438 Contemporary Korean II
This is the continuation of Korean 437. It is an advanced to high-advanced level Korean course in standard modern Korean. Emphasis is placed on developing an advanced level of reading proficiency in Korean and writing ability in Korean for an academic or professional purpose. Undergraduates enroll in the 400-level section; 500-level section is for graduate students only. Prerequisite: L51 428 (grade of B- or better) or permission of instructor.
L51 Korean 455 Topics in Korean Literature and Culture
Topics course in Korean literature and culture. Subject matter varies by semester; consult current semester listings for topic.
L51 Korean 495 Guided Readings in Korean
This course is normally taken after successful completion of Korean 418 or by instructor's permission. May be repeated once. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Credit 2 units.
L51 Korean 497 Guided Readings in Korean
This course is normally taken after successful completion of Korean 418, or by instructor's permission. May be repeated once. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Credit variable, maximum 3 units. EN: H