Asian Studies Major, B.A.–Korean Studies Concentration

Korea occupies a place of significant geopolitical, economic, and cultural importance in the world. It is a unique country where five thousand years of history and tradition coexist with the most advanced technological and economic development. It is also a place where political and ideological differences divide the country into two Koreas (Republic of Korea, or South Korea, and Democratic Republic of Korea, or North Korea) that maintain one of the world’s most fortified military zones.

The Korean peninsula is home to over 72 million ethnic Koreans (North and South combined) and over 1.3 million recent migrants from all over the world. Approximately 7 million ethnic Koreans have migrated to other countries and have established diasporic communities in over 150 countries. The Korean language is spoken by over 75 million people around the world and ranks 13th among the most used languages in the world.

One of the first programs of its kind in the Southeast, the Korean Studies concentration in the Asian Studies degree allows students to combine Korean language study with an interdisciplinary set of courses in Korean culture, history, and society.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Asian studies program, students should be able to:

  • Identify or analyze significant aspects of the target cultures by interpreting texts and media
  • Demonstrate proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in the target language
  • Demonstrate experience in the use of the target language outside the language classroom

Requirements

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

The eight core courses (24 credit hours) consist of two to four language courses and four to six literature and culture courses, as described below. 

Core Requirements
At least two Korean language courses beyond KOR 204. 16-12
Advanced Korean I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Korean II
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Modern Korean Literature and Culture
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Changes and Continuities in Korean History
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Korean Through Current Affairs
Topics in Korean Language and Literature
At least one introductory-level course chosen from the following list: 23-6
IDEAs in Action General Education logo First-Year Seminar: Transnational Korea: Literature, Film, and Popular Culture
IDEAs in Action General Education logo History, Memory, and Reality in Contemporary Korea
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Education and Social Changes in Contemporary Korea
At least two Korean literature and culture courses chosen from the following list: 6-15
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Imagining the City in Modern Korea: Text, Image, Space
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Rebel, Lover, Martyr: Gender and Sexuality in North and South Korean Screen Cultures
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Korean Diasporas
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Body Politics in Modern Korean Literature H
IDEAs in Action General Education logo The Asian American Experience
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Cold War Culture in East Asia: Transnational and Intermedial Connections
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Documenting Diasporas: Korean Diasporas in Films and Documentaries
Other major courses0-9
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Asian Economic Systems
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honors Thesis II
Additional Requirements
Korean through level 44
Total Hours28
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

1

Students whose initial language placement is above KOR 305 should consult the department.

2

No more than two introductory courses (6 hours) may count toward the major. It is recommended that students take at least one of these courses either prior to or concurrent with upper-level Korean literature and culture classes. 

Approved courses taken in UNC–Chapel Hill-sponsored study abroad programs or taken from another institution may count in the concentration. No more than one first-year seminar may be counted among the eight major courses. 

Placement credit (PL) may not be used to meet core requirements for the concentration.

With the approval of the associate chair of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, a student may count a course in directed readings (KOR 496) in the concentration in Korean studies. To register, a student must obtain the approval of the associate chair and the faculty member who will supervise the project.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies requires that all students with prior knowledge of Korean take a placement test. Their beginning language course at UNC is decided by the placement result (not by test credit or transfer credit).

A student’s initial placement is the most important determinant of how long it will take to complete the major. It’s also important to be aware that almost all Korean language courses are only offered in fall or spring, but not both.

Sample Plan One 

This plan is for a student who either is a beginner in Korean, or has some background but has placed into KOR 101.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
KOR 101 Elementary Korean I (fall only) 4
KOR 102 Elementary Korean II (spring only) 4
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 22
Sophomore Year
KOR 203 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Korean I (fall only) 4
KOR 204 Intermediate Korean II (spring only) 4
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Hours 11
Junior Year
KOR 305 Advanced Korean I (fall only) 3
KOR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Korean II (spring only) 3
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Major culture course 3
Hours 12
Senior Year
Major culture course 3
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available)
Major culture course
Hours 6
Total Hours 51

Sample Plan Two

This plan is for a student who has placed into KOR 203

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
KOR 203 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Intermediate Korean I (fall only) 4
KOR 204 Intermediate Korean II (spring only) 4
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 22
Sophomore Year
KOR 305 Advanced Korean I (fall only) 3
KOR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Korean II (spring only) 3
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Hours 9
Junior Year
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available)
Major culture course
Hours 6
Senior Year
Major culture course 3
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available))
Major culture course
Hours 6
Total Hours 43

Sample Plan Three

This plan is for a student who has placed into KOR 305

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Major Courses
KOR 305 Advanced Korean I (fall only) 3
KOR 306 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Korean II (spring only) 3
Major culture course, from the introductory courses list 3
Hours 20
Sophomore Year
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available)
Major culture course
Hours 6
Junior Year
Major culture course, from Korean literature & culture list 3
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available)
Major culture course
Hours 6
Senior Year
Either of: 3
KOR 400-Level Elective (4th-year language course, if available)
Major culture course
Hours 3
Total Hours 35

Special Opportunities in Asian Studies

Honors in Asian Studies

A candidate for honors in Asian studies will write a substantial paper under the guidance of a faculty member. While researching and writing the honors paper, the student will enroll in ASIA 691H and ASIA 692H. ASIA 692H may count as one of the interdisciplinary courses for the major; ASIA 691H will count for elective credit only. In the case of the concentrations in Arab cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean studies, and South Asian studies, ASIA 692H may count toward the major in the concentration.

A committee composed of at least two faculty members will examine the candidate. To be accepted as an honors candidate, a student must meet the University’s requirement of a minimum overall grade point average of 3.3, secure the consent of a faculty member in the Asian studies field to act as advisor for the project, and submit a proposal to the associate chair of Asian studies for approval.

Departmental Involvement

The department sponsors a variety of cultural events — lectures, film series, performances, and more — as well as social and informational events where students can get to know each other and faculty members in an informal setting. Faculty members in the department serve as advisors to some of the many Asia-related student organizations on campus, such as the Japan Club, Chinese Conversation Club, Hebrew Table, and more.

Languages across the Curriculum

The department participates in the Languages across the Curriculum (LAC) program, offering a one-credit-hour discussion section that is conducted in Arabic, Chinese, or Hindi-Urdu but associated with a variety of courses offered in English, both in Asian studies and in such other departments as history or religious studies. This LAC recitation section offers students the opportunity to use their Arabic, Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, or Korean language skills in a broader intellectual context.

Libraries

The University has rich collections of books and periodicals on Asia in the relevant Asian languages, as well as in English and other Western languages. Experts in the collection development department for Davis Library are available to help students locate the materials they need. The University also has an outstanding collection of Asian films and other audiovisual materials, housed in the Media Resource Center at House Library.

Speaker Series

The department sponsors an annual speaker series. These events include lectures by prominent artists, scholars, and writers and are often cosponsored by other units on campus.

Study Abroad

UNC–Chapel Hill sponsors several study programs (summer, semester, and yearlong) in China, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Asian studies majors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to live and study in an Asian setting; UNC-approved study abroad programs also satisfy the experiential education requirement. For further information on these programs and other study abroad opportunities in Asia, contact the UNC Study Abroad Office.

Undergraduate Research

The department actively encourages undergraduate student research. Through classes, advising, and office hours, faculty members guide students toward defining areas of interest, conceptualizing research questions, identifying sources, and writing academic papers. Students may pursue research through independent studies, the senior honors thesis, and study abroad research opportunities such as the Burch Fellowship. Asian studies students have received a variety of competitive research support and travel awards, won regional contests for undergraduate papers, published papers in academic journals, and presented their work at such events as the Senior Colloquium in Asian Studies and the campuswide Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the spring.

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Visit Program Website

New West 113, CB# 3267

(919) 962-4294

Korean Program Advisor

I Jonathan Kief

kief@email.unc.edu

Chair

Morgan Pitelka

mpitelka@unc.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Robin Visser

rvisser@email.unc.edu

Student Services Specialist

Ash Barnes

wow@unc.edu