ANNYEONGHASEYO: Mastering the Korean Language

Studying Korea at the University of Alberta in Edmonton!

Are you a high school student or a first year student thinking of learning about Korea at the University level?

As an alumni of the Undergraduate program within the Department of East Asian Studies and a current Master’s student in the same department, let me walk you through some of my favourite Korea-related courses at U of A!

1. KOREA 101/102 — Beginner Korean I & II

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Welcome to your first Korean class! Be sure you’re registered in KOREA 101 for the Fall semester and KOREA 102 for the Winter, as these two courses compliment each other. They are also often available in the Spring and Summer semesters. Here you will learn how to read, write, and pronounce Hangul (the Korean alphabet) and begin to build basic sentences introducing yourself and your school.


2. EASIA 101 — Understanding East Asia

This course is a prerequisite to taking all the courses specifically on Korea! Not only will you learn about China, Japan and Korea – you will also learn the basics of research writing. You could end up writing your final paper on something like architectural changes in Seoul, or even on a modern Korean author.


3. KOREA 201/202 — Beginner Korean III & IV

Have you already self-taught yourself Hangul? Do you know some basic sentences already. I totally suggest organizing a “Language Skill Test” with the Korean language coordinator to see if you can skip KOREA 101/102 and go straight into 201/202 or even 301! That’s what I did in my first year of University, and it was definitely the right choice for me since I self-studied Korean for 6 years before coming to University.

In 201/202, you will finish up the basics and begin to learn “survival skills” in Korea. Examples? Ahjusshi, please go to Myeongdong station! Imo-nim, please give me two servings of Samkyubsal. Super important sentences to know when travelling in Korea, right?


4. EASIA 270 — Overview of Korean Culture

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With EASIA 101 under your belt, you are now ready to get your fundamental introduction to Korean culture. You will definitely learn things you could never learn from TV!  Topics in this course include K-Drama, K-Pop, Korean cuisine, clothing and even traditional music, performance and culture! I had a lot of fun in this class, and remember writing my final paper on Korean theatre, which discussed it’s origins in pansori and the evolution of Korean musicals as a Hallyu product.


5. EASIA 375 — Introduction to Korean Linguistics

Ready to learn about the Korean language in a more in-depth way? EASIA 375 is an exciting class that helps you understand Korean in a new way and gets your prepared for the intermediate and advanced levels of Korean language class coming your way. As well, if you speak another language, you can write papers that help you compare certain linguistic aspects of it to Korean. For example, I wrote papers comparing Filipino pronunciation of consonants to Korean consonants, and also compared the Filipino negation system to the Korea one!


7. EASIA 471 — Topics in Korean Studies

This course features advanced discussions and reviews on selected topics in Korean culture and society. Here I learned about the viral sensation called “mukbang”, plastic surgery and body politics in Korea, and even about the first Great East Asian War. As well, we even watched Korean monster and horror films, which is what I ended up writing my final paper on!

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8. KOREA 401/402 — Advanced Korean I & II

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The 400-level Korean classes are a great memory for me! We learned a lot of advanced grammar and professional vocabulary, and presented on news articles. Also, this is where we started studying for the TOPIK or Test of Proficiency in Korea exam. The TOPIK Exam is administered by the government of Korea, and your TOPIK level is a great thing to have on your resume when apply for jobs potentially related to Korea. And the amazing part is that the exam is administered twice a year at U of A!


9. EASIA 472 — Topics in Korean Literary History

Do you love the song “Moving On” or “이사” by BTS? In the chorus, BTS sing “정들었던 이곳과는 안녕”. This line often gets translated as “goodbye to this place that we grew /attached/ to.” But, what does “attachment” or “affection” really mean to Korean people?

Find out in EASIA 472, where the philosophy of “jeong” is traced through works on animals, folk literature, the supernatural, romantic rivals (2nd-lead and 1st-lead bromance, anyone?) and or course Korean pop culture!

With this course, you will be able to understand a phenomenon that is deeper than love, “jeong”. And you’ll know how deep it is when mentioned in your favourite song or drama!


10. EASIA 370 — Topics in Contemporary Korean Culture

This course is actually brand new to U of A, so I haven’t taken it yet but I am super excited about auditing it next Winter! The topic will be how Korean culture and society is reflected on K-pop.


As someone who is researching and writing on K-pop, I’m excited to discuss musicians like EXID, IU, Produce 101, JYP, Jay Park, Verbal Jint, Leesang, Epik High and more!


That’s it for my overview of the Korean studies classes at U of A! If you’re interested in getting deeper into the study of Korea, definitely consider coming to the University of Alberta for your studies! I had the opportunity to study in Korea twice, represent U of A at the Korean Speech Contest in Toronto, and after graduation worked with Koreaboo thanks to my Korean language skills and knowledge about Korea. After I graduate from my Master’s degree here I’m very confident I’ll be able to find another Korea-related job!

Feel free to drop any questions you have in the comments, and see you next time!

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