Course Description

This course addresses war and peace surrounding the Korean peninsula from the perspective of international relations. The Korean peninsula is still in the status of ceasefire from the Korean War, and it is still divided into two Koreas since the beginning of the Cold war. Also, the Korean peninsula has been geopolitically located in the middle of powers such as the USA, Japan, and China. Thus, the status of peace and war on the Korean peninsula is deeply impacted by the international politics. The aim of the course is that the students while focusing on the Korean peninsula develop a basic understanding of the various ongoing conflicts in East Asia (i.e., “New Cold War”) between the USA, China, Japan, Russia and North and South Korea. In the beginning of the seminar, we will make ourselves acquainted with conceptual approaches to international relations in East Asia. This is followed by a set of sessions in which we examine historical developments around the Korean peninsula starting from the 16th East Asian war, which occurred on the Korean Peninsula, and the Sino-Japan war in the 19th century during the expansion of Western powers in the East Asia working our way up to the division of the Korean peninsula (1945-48) and the Korean War (1950-53) in the 20th century. Against this backdrop we spend the remainder of the semester with studying contemporary developments regarding the international relations and conflicts between the two Koreas, the USA, Japan, China and Russia. Meanwhile, a central focus is put on issues related to the difficulties and possibilities of peace on the Korean peninsula and the East Asian region.

Course Structure


Because of the COVID-19 crisis, this course will be conducted mainly through online lectures and discussions (Zoom). This semester is composed of 14 weeks (19. Oct. 2021 – 01. Feb. 2022/ Weihnachtsfereien: 24.12.2020- 07.01.2021). Students are expected to read the required reading materials on the schedule at home. This course is part of an Aufbaumodul. After finishing the course, you are expected to take an oral examination of 30 minutes.



Attendance & Participation (at most 3 absences are okay except illness or emergence situation)

Oral examination (30 minutes)

1)      First half of the examination: Presentation of a selected topic from the lecture (you can organize a group with 3-4 people) and Q&A

2)      Second half of the examination: Q&A about the lecture topics, ‘peace and war’