Why Two Koreas?: A Brief History of the North-South Split with Dr. James Person

Why Two Koreas?: A Brief History of the North-South Split with Dr. James Person


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Why did Korea, a country with a history of over 1,000 years of political unity, split into two mutually hostile regimes? And how did the division shape the socio-political, cultural, and ideological trajectories of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) since 1945? Join a historian to answer these questions and discover how a once-unified Korea became so divided.

In August 1945 two U.S. colonels studied a National Geographic map of East Asia and selected the 38th parallel, an imaginary line running across the Korean peninsula, splitting it into roughly two equal parts, as a dividing line between Soviet and U.S. occupation zones. The division of Korea was meant to be a temporary measure after liberating the country from over thirty-five years of Japanese colonial occupation. Sadly, the division of Korea into north and south became permanent, ending over 1,000 years of political and cultural unity.

This seminar will examine the causes of national division, including colonial legacies and the impact of the global cold war, and explore how national division shaped the socio-political, cultural, and ideological trajectories of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Led by a Korean studies expert, Dr. James Person, this interactive seminar will introduce participants to the history of Korea’s divide. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an understanding of this complicated yet intriguing East Asian region.

James F. Person is Senior Faculty Lead for Korea Studies and a Lecturer in Asia Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His research focuses primarily on state-building in North and South Korea, democratization and democratic consolidation in South Korea, the foreign relations of North and South Korea, and inter-Korean relations. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins SAIS, he was the founding Director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Wilson Center. Between 2007 and early 2017, he served as the founding Coordinator of the North Korea International Documentation Project, and was Deputy Director of the History and Public Policy Program at the Wilson Center from 2013 to 2017.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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K
K.G.
Brilliant Insight!

This was THE most interesting Context Conversation I have participated in. Not only did it provide wonderful historical background, but it provided great socio-political insight to the break-up of the Korean Peninsula. Dr. Person provided such a greater understanding of the complex issues from the preceding decades that contributed to the destabilization of Korea, not only internally, but from external factors as well. I was so incredibly pleased and appreciative, as a person of Asian descent, that this was conveyed so well in this presentation.

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
K.G.
Brilliant Insight!

This was THE most interesting Context Conversation I have participated in. Not only did it provide wonderful historical background, but it provided great socio-political insight to the break-up of the Korean Peninsula. Dr. Person provided such a greater understanding of the complex issues from the preceding decades that contributed to the destabilization of Korea, not only internally, but from external factors as well. I was so incredibly pleased and appreciative, as a person of Asian descent, that this was conveyed so well in this presentation.