Inter-Korean Relations: Rivalry, Reconciliation, and Reunification
Comprehensive Unit

Grade Level

Secondary - Community College

Published

2010

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Inter Korean cover

The drama of inter-Korean relations is a fascinating and instructive story of world affairs at large. The experiences of the two Koreas illustrate how conflict and the pursuit of peace are two dominant themes behind history. To underscore that fundamental fact, this curriculum approaches inter-Korean relations from the themes of rivalry, reconciliation, and reunification. While North and South Korea remain technically at war even to the present day, the decades of division since World War II have also witnessed periods of reconciliation, especially in more recent years, as the two Koreas have sought coexistence and mutual tolerance rather than outright rejection of each other's legitimacy. This curriculum unit explores this dynamic and provides students with a multifaceted view of inter-Korean relations.

Lesson One introduces students to modern Korean history since the end of World War II. Students learn about the division of the peninsula, the Korean War, and the subsequent decades of intense rivalry between the two Koreas.

Lesson Two, students study the political dimension of inter-Korean relations, comparing the countries' political systems and learning about the "sunshine policy."

Lesson Three asks students to examine the increasingly pronounced economic disparity between the two Koreas and investigate recent inter-Korean economic projects, such as the Mount Geumgang tourism project and the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.

Lesson Four discusses the security situation on the Korean peninsula through the lens of the Korean de-militarized zone, which has been a focal point of North and South Korean security concerns since the end of the Korean War.

Lesson Five looks at the socio-cultural and human dynamics between the Koreas, exploring two important humanitarian issues in inter-Korean relations-divided families and North Korean refugees.

Lesson Six, the final lesson, delves into future prospects for the Korean peninsula. The lesson outlines several future scenarios for the two Koreas and asks students to apply their knowledge of inter-Korean relations to evaluate which is most likely.

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