[Vol. 21 No. 2] NO FRAME TO FIT IT ALL: AN AUTOETHNOGRAPHY ON TEACHING UNDERGRADUATE KOREAN STUDIES, ON AND OFF THE PENINSULA
Cedarbough T. Saeji
Vol. 21 No. 2
pp. 443~460 (all 18 pages)
Korean Studies, pedagogy, classroom, auto-ethnography, Han’gukhak
In the past two decades, Korean Studies has expanded to become an interdisciplinary and increasingly international field of study and research. While new undergraduate Korean Studies programs are opening at universities in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and intensifying multi-lateral knowledge transfers, this process also reveals the lack of a clear identity that continues to haunt the field. In this autoethnographic essay, I examine the possibilities and limitations of framing Korea as an object of study for diverse student audiences, looking towards potential futures for the field. I focus on 1) the struggle to escape the nation-state boundaries implied in the habitual terminology, particularly when teaching in the ROK, where the country is unmarked (“Han’guk”), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is marked (“Pukhan”), and the diaspora is rarely mentioned at all; 2) the implications of the expansion of Korean Studies as a major within the ROK; 3) in-class navigations of Korean national pride, the trap of Korean uniqueness and (self-)orientalization and attitudes toward the West; 4) the negotiation of my own status as a white American researching/teaching about Korea, often to Koreans; 5) reactions to the (legitimate) demands of undergraduate Korean Studies majors to define the field and its future employment opportunities. Finally, I raise some questions about teaching methodologies in Korean Studies. Drawing on my experiences with diverse groups of students, I ask those involved in this field to consider with me the challenges emerging in a time of rapid growth.