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Historical Reconciliation in East Asia


Admission requirements

Although this course is primarily part of BA2 Korean Studies program, any BA students who are interested in East Asia and history with various backgrounds can also be admitted. Since the lectures and course materials will be provided in English, no further language acquisition is required. MA students are requested to contact their program co-ordinator and the lecturers for administrative matters.


The collapse of Berlin Wall has brought latent historical conflicts out into the open in East Asia, also in Europe, with the rise of nationalism in the region. A series of ‘history wars,’ most of which had been simplified into the confrontation between capitalism and socialism during the Cold War, has come to have a regional or even global impact in that it explicitly and implicitly influences all actors or groups of actors in or related to this region. Disputes and discourses on issues such as Japan’s colonial rule and its invasion of China and Southeast Asia, as well as not (yet) widely-adressed ones, mark a new formation of East Asia both in national and international terms.
In order to resolve the conflicts over the diverse historical narratives, scholars have proposed a ‘shared history’ or ‘common history,’ which aims to build a degree of common understanding of the past to prevent further conflicts. Despite on-going attempts and meaningful processes of historical reconciliation and a common history in East Asia and world-wide, however, the conflicts still exist and are even reinvented. Is it, then, possible to reconcilie the past and have a common history in this region? Our investigation of this question will address the dilemma of the reconciliation of history and open an alternative way for peace.

Course objectives

This course is composed of three parts. In the beginning of the course, backgrounds and aspects of the history wars in East Asia will be investigated with the comparison of European cases. Then, cases of common history textbook projects such as the Joint History Research Project in East Asia and that in Europe will be examined. Finally, a chance to deepen our understanding of the issues addressed will be provided through students’ presentation and discussion. In so doing, participants will recognize the diverse origins and processes of history-making both in East Asia and in Europe and come to a deeper understanding of the problems surrounding the concepts of “reconciliation” and “common history”. The question of what is historical reconciliation will allow us to rethink its meaning and revisit problems concerning victim and perpetrator, crime and responsibility, memory and truth and so on.



Mode of instruction

Lectures and Seminars

Course Load

  • 26 hours of classes (Divided between lectures and seminars over 13 weeks)

  • 52 hours or reading and class preparation, weekly assignments

  • 12 hours to prepare essay proposal and presentation

  • 50 hours to complete the final essay
    Total: 140 Hours for 5 ECTS

Assessment method

Students are required to attend and participate actively in class. Each students will complete a final essay (1,500 words, references/footnotes included) with regard to the topics dealt and dicussed in the class throughout the course. To do so, Students will be asked to (1) attend the course regularily; (2) engage with class discussions; (3) write weekly think pieces (50-100 words) by answering to key questions around by lecturers based on the course texts; (4) present their positions and proposals and receive feedbacks from the lecturers and other students. The final grade is divided as follows: class participation (30%), weekly assignment (20%), essay proposal and presentation (20%), final assignment (30%).

As is the case for all Korean Studies courses, a strict attendance policy will be enforced. Attendance for all seminars is expected. Failure to attend results in a lower grade. If you do not attend more than three classes you will not be able to continue attending the classes and your paper may not be graded by the instructor(s). If you have a valid reason not to attend, you may get dispensation from this rule, but you have to consult the coordinator of studies on this.

Resit: The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient. They will be asked to submit a revised essay, based on the feedbacks from the lecturers


Yes. Students are requested to elaborate their propositions by submitting their weekly think pieces and final essay via Blackboard. Each questions to be answered and discussed will be posted on the discussion board.

Reading list

  • Korostelina, K. V, and Simone Lässig. 2013. History Education And Post-Conflict Reconciliation. London: Routledge.

  • Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. 2013. East Asia Beyond The History Wars. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

  • Shin, Gi-Wook, and Daniel C Sneider. 2011. History Textbooks And The Wars In Asia. London: Routledge.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about the Registration procedure

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration for Studeren à la carte
Registration for Contractonderwijs


Dr. S.J. (Sungjoon) Bae
M. (Minuk) Nam MA

Studiecoördinator Mw. S. Kraakman