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Legacies of Pain: Historical Reconciliation in East Asia


Admission requirements

Student should have basic knowledge of Korean history.


To some extent, history is a highly politicised subject where multiple interpretations and truths compete each other. Given this contestedness, it might be wise to take truth/history as an ongoing political process that cannot be ended, and therefore cannot be fully established. One of the key points here is that truth is open to interpretation. This multiple and contested nature of truth and history is also deeply related to the politics of pain. In this course, pain is understood as a state of (collective and individual) bodily mind, or mindful body, in which various types of displacing and agonising processes are involved.

Against this backdrop, the course seeks to explore the politics of truth/pain in the context of Korean (Asian) Studies. In Part I, it focuses on pertinent background discussions of knowledge/truth/pain in the relevant fields. In Part II, the course investigates truth/pain-related issues with a special focus on Korean (and/or Japanese/Chinese) history. Examples include Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, wars/massacres and the so-called comfort women.

Course objectives

  • Obtaining a contexualised knowledge of truth/pain in historical context – Exploring situated scholarship in Korean/Asian Studies – Formulating independent agendas and ideas – Developing writing and presentation skills



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

  • Total workload 140 hours;

  • Contact hours: 2 hours per week X 13 weeks = 26 hours

  • Preparation: 4 hours per week X 13 weeks = 52 hours

  • Preparing presentation= 12 hours

  • Essay: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Essay 40%

  • Presentation 40%

  • Attendance and participation 20%

Resit: students who fail the course (a grade below a 5.5) may resit the essay if they have participated in the presentation.


Yes. Blackboard

Reading list

See blackboard


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

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