Radicals, reactionaries, and reluctant reformers rebuild Korea for the 20th century
Korea at the Crossroads situates students in the great debates over reform that swept East Asia following the irruption of Western imperialism in the second half of the nineteenth century. The game is set in the Deliberative Council, a body established by the Korean court in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War to discuss and implement measures to restructure government, economy, society, and education. Members of the Deliberative Council represented a wide range of opinions. Those pushing for radical reforms included men who had studied in Japan under Fukuzawa Yukichi and men who had studied at schools in the United States. There was also a significant conservative Confucian group of the Eastern Way, Western Machines persuasion who, following the example of Qing China, sought to strengthen the traditional order by selectively adopting Western technology. The Council was presided over by the erstwhile isolationist, the Taewŏn’gun, who was also the father of King Kojong. The Council’s deliberations took place amid palace intrigue and foreign pressures. Students will have to consult a wide range of writings from Korea, including Yu Kilchun’s Observations from a Journey to the West, as well as key documents by Japanese and Chinese thinkers, in constructing their arguments for and against reform.
Using the Game
There are 5 modules (international relations, government, economy, education, society), so the instructor can choose which ones to include.
Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading. Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Guide, and Handouts) are available to any instructor through the publisher.
Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content.
Updated January 2021.
The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.
John Duncan is a retired professor of Korean studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jennifer Jung-Kim received her Ph.D. in Korean History from the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, she teaches courses on Korean history in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. She also teaches Introduction to East Asia in the International and Area Studies program.
She is also senior editor of the Korean Classics Library series and serves as assistant director of the Center for Buddhist Studies.