This lesson could be used in a government/civics course, a U.S. history course, or a world history/ global studies course. Grades 9-12 (the readings may pose greater challenges to the lower grades).
Standards correlation: Common Core Standards—Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12. Grades 9-10: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8. Grades 11-12: 1, 2, 3,4, 6, 7, 8, 9
Readings/resources: Backgrounder on North Korea with reading guide; YouTube MSNBC interview (3:39) with Victor Cha regarding North Korean weapons test; video of North Korean grief over the death of Kim Jong-il (3 min., but 30-40 seconds are sufficient); 1-2 page perspectives on the U.S. (two), China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea with reading guides; format sheet for presentations; note-taking guide for presentations
Knowledge of the history and nature of relations between the United States, North Korea, and other nations in northeast Asia
Understanding of the various and competing perspectives of nations regarding North Korea
Ability to recognize and evaluate competing national objectives and propose a realistic resolution
For 10 minutes on day the backgrounder is assigned, survey students for prior knowledge. A map of Northeast Asia is essential for understanding the geographic factors. Press individual students to explain where and how they developed their impressions and “knowledge” about North Korea. Alert them to an imminent deepening of their knowledge. Assign the backgrounder and reading guide for the next day.
Bell ringer: YouTube video of North Koreans sobbing at news of the death of Kim Jong-il’s death followed by introductory questions:
Show next video—MSNBC interview with Victor Cha. Note to students that Cha served in the Bush administration a Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council beginning in December 2004.
Five-minute discussion of backgrounder questions
Essential questions: What is the nature of the threat or threats generated by the conflicts involving the United States and the nations in northeast Asia? What policies flow from your answer?
Third Day (break may occur sooner)
Summary/enrichment: Write an essay explaining and justifying a policy aimed at reducing tensions in Northeast Asia.
Take another day to organize six simulated United Nations commissions responsible for devising a fair resolution to the conflicts in Northeast Asia. Each commission will be made up of representatives from each of the six perspectives.
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