Upon our return from spring break the news was filled with images, soundbites, and videos regarding North Korea’s military provocation of the world and the threat of World War III. The students and I would take a few days to try and decompress the current events developing on the Korean peninsula, and try to make sense of it all.
They were to spend a half hour reading about the current situation and share their findings with a partner. To chronologically sort the history of North and South Korea we had a short discussion to make sure all of us were on the same page.
We discussed Korean history all the way back to the Japanese invasion during WWII, and the atrocities that the Japanese committed against the Korean people. At the end of World War II, radical leader Kim Il Sung was determined to raise morale and make his people strong. His political philosophy was the Juche, which is pretty much like saying “up yours” to the rest of the world. After being mistreated by the Japanese, Kim il Sung was prepared to go to great lengths to ensure that no foreign power could do this again.
So he became a totalitarian ruler seizing control of every social aspect so that he can protect his children. His sons have followed suit, they too have been absolute rulers, taking the citizens of North Korea away from contact with the outside world and cloaking their society with propaganda and fear. Human Rights Violations are rampant in North Korea, and concentration camps are used to prevent any negative speech or action against the regime.
The medical situation is dire and the government refuses international aid.
The taunts and threats of war are not new trends in North Korean foreign policy, Kim il Sung, his son Kim Jong-il, and his grandson, and current leader Kim Jong-un have all made threats to their neighbours and the United States. The students were asked to read, watch, question and formulate their own opinions regarding the current situation in North Korea and report back to me.
Here is what they produced:
Supplementary Materials used:
National Geographic’s Inside North Korea in 2006
Koreas Tensions: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/06/world/asia/koreas-tensions/index.html
This is cross posted at http://spot.thinkglobalschool.com/blog/view/112950/current-events-north-korea-in-global-studies.