Course Details

Title Exploring Seoul: Geography of the City
Field of Study Korean studies
Professor Jason Reginald Rhodes (jrhode22@kennesaw.edu)
Type Academic course
Delivery Type Hybrid Track (2 weeks online + 2 weeks offline): Real-time
Credits 3
Contact hours 45
Schedule Afternoon
Course code ISS1155
Course number 18061

This course will get us out of the classroom and into the city as we explore the sights and sounds, and nooks and crannies, of one of the most fascinating cities on earth. For geographers, what does it mean to “read the cultural landscape” of a place? What stories can the buildings and design of a city tell us about the culture, past and present of the people who live there? Lectures and course readings will connect to weekly tours of the city, organized by theme, that will teach us not just about the past and present of our incredible host city, but about new ways of seeing, and understanding, the urban world in which we live. At the end of the class, students will present their own themed photo essay of some aspect of the cultural landscape of Seoul.


(1) Students will develop an understanding of the geographic practice of “reading the cultural landscape” of a place through a series of readings, lectures and tours that explore contemporary Seoul as a museum of Korean culture, history, and ongoing processes of globalization


(2) Students will be able to recognize three distinctive phases of architecture and urban development in Seoul: colonial, developmental, and transition to globalization, and connect these periods of design and development to distinctive shifts and developments in Korean culture

(3) By the end of the course, students will demonstrate their ability to “read the cultural landscape” by presenting a photo essay that explores some aspect of the cultural landscape of contemporary Seoul

(4) Students will develop their abilities to engage in critical thinking and effective communication.


No prior knowledge of the subject matter is required for taking this course.


Required text: Usher, Charles. Seoul Sub-urban. Seoul, South Korea. Seoul Selection, 2017. All additional reading materials will be made freely available to students online, in adherence with international copyright law.

20 %
Lesson Plan
Class 1: The Colonial Period: The First Urbanization (Reading: “Seoul in Motion: Urban Form and Political Consciousness,” by Hong Kal; Quiz over reading)
Class 2: Urban Form and Colonial Consciousness in Colonial Korea (Reading: Independence Movement: Dongguk University Station,” by Charles Fisher; Quiz over reading)
Class 3: Tour: Dongguk University Station
Class 4: Post-Liberation City: The Quest for Architectural Identity (Reading: Park Chung-hee and the City,” by Ross King; Quiz over reading)
Class 5: Park Chung-hee and the Transformation of Seoul
Class 6: Christianity, Development, and the Urban Landscape in the Development Era (Reading: “It Is What It Was – Where Today Was Back in the Day,” by Charles Fisher; Quiz over reading)
Class 7: Tour: Jongno 5-ga (Photo Essay Topics Due)
Class 8: Seoul and the Transition to Globalization: New Paradigms for Urban Design (Reading: “The Affective Consumption of K-Pop Idols and Places: Cosme Road,” by Youjeong Oh; Quiz over reading)
Class 9: New Culture, New Design: The Korean Wave
Class 10: K-Pop and the Marketing of Urban Space (Reading: “Myeong-Dong Station: Biff! Bam! Pow!,” by Charles Fisher; Quiz over reading)
Class 11: Tour: Myeong-Dong (Photo Essay Notebooks Due)
Class 12: Seoul as Green City: From the Greenbelt to Seoul Forest (Reading: Flowing Back to the Future: The Cheonggye Stream Restoration,” by Hong Kal; Quiz over reading)
Class 13: Urban Landscape and Collective Memory (Reading: “Jonggak Station: Illumination,” by Charles Fisher; Quiz over reading)
Class 14: Tour: Cheonggye Plaza
Class 15: Student Presentations (Photo Essays Due)
Last Updated May 27, 2021
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