Uncovering North Korea
Comprehensive Unit

Grade Level

Secondary - Community College

Published

2009

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 SPICE UncoveringNK semifinal

North Korea remains one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented countries in the United States. The problem is twofold. First, North Korea is a very isolated and closed society, which makes accurate and reliable information about the country difficult to obtain. Second, history and politics influence Western portrayal of North Korea, which is often one-sided and narrowly focused on negative issues such as the nuclear weapons program. While both challenges have eased in recent times, American students largely remain uneducated about North Korea, lacking the proper context with which to understand and interpret today's current events. Uncovering North Korea seeks to fill this gap and strives to bring more accurate information and objectivity to the study of North Korea in U.S. high schools and beyond.

Lesson One serves as a brief introduction to North Korea and encourages students to reexamine their preconceptions and knowledge about the country.

Lesson Two examines some of the political aspects of North Korea, including its political philosophies of juche and seongun and the strong "cult of personality" surrounding its leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. 

In Lesson Three, students consider the current security situation on the Korean peninsula-in particular, the issue of North Korea's nuclear program-and try to gain a more balanced understanding of why North Korea continues to pursue nuclear weapons.

Lesson Four introduces students to the concept of human rights and asks students to consider the human rights situation in North Korea.

Lesson Five provides students with a glimpse into North Korean society through the film A State of Mind, a documentary about two North Korean school girls as they prepare for the Mass Games.

Lesson Six, provides students with a broad overview of the characteristics and state of North Korea's economy, including some of its tragic historical shortcomings and some signs of possible change. Through this multifaceted study of North Korea-through politics, security, human rights, society, and economy-students will gain a more complete and accurate understanding of the country.

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