We are entering an important moment in history. The two Koreas, which have been at war since 1945, are experiencing a warming of relations with the leaders of the two nations agreeing to meet. The first of its kind discussions are a sign that the two nations are able to negotiate an agreement to not only harmonize relations but to also denuclearize the peninsula. The latter of the developments is seen as a major step forward as North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme is potentially risking war in the region. The summit will discuss the opportunity to make the region nuclear-free, but perhaps only in the vaguest terms.
The desire to have a united Korea is strong. According to a 2017 Korea Institute for National Unification, 58% of South Korean citizens had responded that unification is necessary. The number had declined as 62% of South Korean citizens thought unification was necessary in 2016. Among the respondents of the 2017 survey, 14% said ‘we really need unification’ while 44% said ‘we kind of need unification’.
The summit has also been praised by key regional players like China and United States, who are also seeking a new order in the region.
Ideas to think about
- Given that North Korea is an incredibly under-developed nation, how will South Korea afford to reunify the country?
- Given that both nations have been separated for 50 years, will they be able to homogenize their culture?
- Is the North Korean government likely to give up its weapons programme?
Using the words on the left, try to match them with the best definition on the right-hand side.
|Unthinkable||never done or known before|
|DMZ||to relieve or free oneself of something|
|to be rid of||The truth or a result will only be known in the future after events have happened|
|but only time will tell||too unlikely or undesirable to be considered a possibility|
|Unprecedented||A region on the Korean peninsula that demarcates North Korea from South Korea. Roughly following the 38th parallel, the 150-mile-long land area incorporates territory on both sides of the cease-fire line as it existed at the end of the Korean War (1950–53).|
Vocabulary matchup answers
USA Today programme broadcast an excellent piece on the developments in the country and how the two Koreas are trying to make a new chapter for both nations. The key to remember of all this interest is that this has never happened before nor does anyone know what or how they should proceed. It is vital to note that this is a joyous moment in the history of both countries who have had several generations of their populations separated physically and culturally – despite being in effect, made up of the same group of people.
Before watching the video, try to guess the answers to the following questions. Once you’ve made a guess, have a look at the video and then check if you guessed correctly. The answers are below the video if you’re finding it tough.
- Who is Kim Jong-Un?
- Will President Trump meet Kim Jong-Un?
- Who is President Moon?
- Did they sign an agreement to be rid of nuclear weapons?
- Did the North Korean leader promise to remove all nuclear weapons?
- The North Korean leader was said to have made the following comment, but what are the missing words? “I won’t interrupt your ___________ morning __________.”
- The CIA has never met anyone from North Korea. True or false?
How did that go? If you found it difficult, then you can check your answers below:
Imagine you are to prepare a summit similar to the one the leaders in the video have just attended. What activities would you arrange for both parties to take part in? For instance, the leaders both planted a tree, they had dinner together, and watch live music performances. What would you arrange instead and why would you choose to do so? Work in a group to make your decision and then share your ideas with the class.
Potential debate topics for North Korea
- North Korea is a dangerous nation and military action is needed to free it from dictatorship.
- The reunification of North and South Korea will be disastrous
- The United States, China, and Russia have all led to the problems which have risen on the Korean peninsula.
- A nuclear-free North Korea is not the largest problem faced by South Korea.
- The ideology of the North Korean government is far more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
The important lesson to take away from this is that peace is worth fighting for and that it is possible for countries to change for the better.