ERIC Identifier: ED339672
Publication Date: 1991-08-00
Author: Johnson, Jeffrey R.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Teaching about the Two Koreas. ERIC Digest.
Recent events in Europe suggest that the pattern of global ideological struggle which provoked the division of Korea is apparently dissolving, giving way to nationalist movements. The division of the Korean people now appears to be anachronistic. There are signs that reunification is possible.
Despite the importance of the Korean peninsula in world affairs, the two Koreas are often neglected in social studies courses. To promote effective teaching about them, this ERIC Digest examines reasons for teaching about Korea and ways to integrate Korea into the curriculum, while recommending useful resources for teachers.
WHY SHOULD KOREA BE INCLUDED IN THE SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM?
Issues involving Korea will continue to be in the news. The question of reunification tops the list. The North Korean government and South Korean dissidents have blamed the U.S. presence in South Korea for hindering the reunification process. Conversely, South Korean leaders denounce the menacingly large military force in the North. Reunification offers a number of potential benefits, although the economic problems engendered by the rapid German reunification have not gone unnoticed in Korea. Analysts look for both sides to move cautiously. The future of the North Korean regime after the passing of its aging leader Kim Il Sung is another pressing question. Timely issues such as human rights, democratization, and the petitions of both Koreas for United Nations membership will also be widely discussed in the foreseeable future.
Although divided, the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) have each attained levels of infrastructure development which could not have been predicted when the peninsula was in ruins at the end of the Korean War. In recent years, the economy of communist North Korea has lagged far behind that of the capitalist South, but the North Korean economy was for many years one of the most successful among communist nations, and has thrived on a strategy of import substitution and export promotion. Both countries have received large amounts of foreign aid. Direct trade between the North and South, which has opened recently on a small scale, may eventually lead to closer inter-Korean relations.
The United States and South Korea are economically interdependent. By the end of the 1980s, South Korea was the United States' seventh largest trading partner, and the United States was the fourth largest consumer of South Korean exports and the second largest source of Korean imports.
The United Sates has a force of approximately 40,000 troops in South Korea to defend the country against potential enemies. The United States military commitment to South Korea and its economic ties with the nation ensure that issues involving Korea will remain consequential to Americans. The Bush Administration has reasserted the U.S. pledge to maintain a military force in South Korea, although plans are under way to reduce the number of U.S. bases and eventually to remove U.S. military personnel from Seoul.
Korea has contributed much to regional and world culture. Inlaid Koryo celadons grace the world's finest museums. Korea has transmitted elements of continental culture to Japan, as well as making its own innovative contributions to Japanese culture. Korean movable type predates Gutenberg's version by several centuries. The han'gul alphabet, developed in Korea in the fifteenth century, is one of the world's easiest and most systematic scripts. T'aekwondo, a martial arts indigenous to Korea, is practiced throughout the world for its benefits as a sport and a means of self defense.
The number of Korean immigrants to the United States is growing steadily. Large Korean-American communities exist in many cities. These immigrants have demonstrated family and community solidarity, establishing churches and cooperative business ventures. Like previous immigrant groups, Korean Americans have experienced racial discrimination.
HOW CAN KOREA BE INTEGRATED INTO THE CURRICULUM?
EXPLORE KOREAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
EXAMINE KOREAN THOUGHT AND SOCIETY.
In elementary and middle grades, students may be asked to compare their own daily schedules with those of Korean children and to then speculate about the social values implicit in these activities. For example, they might question why Korean school children have less free time than their American counterparts and then compare the ways in which both groups use their available leisure time. They might also be asked to compare Korean folk heroes with those from their own cultures.
High school students might be asked to compare the socio-political systems of the two Koreas, realizing that each side is likely to have strengths as well as weaknesses. Examining the impact of Western culture on the peninsula would reveal to students the persistence of traditions despite the selective adoption of foreign ideas. Despite its isolation, there is evidence that North Korean society is experiencing limited economic liberalization, allowing some foreign investment in joint business ventures. In South Korea, rapid social change and increased affluence have been attended by demands from women, college students, labor groups, and the growing middle class for greater participation in society.
INCLUDE KOREA IN UNITS ON EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC RIM.
DISCUSS KOREA IN UNITED STATES HISTORY COURSES.
UTILIZE AVAILABLE RESOURCES.
Abundant sources of information on Korea are often overlooked. Contact local toys and magazines, as well as rental videos of South Korean films and television programs. Their proprietors may provide information and contacts with local Korean-American communities. Korean student organizations at large public and private universities may sponsor lectures and cultural events that are open to the public.
General information about Korea can be obtained by writing or calling the Information Office, Korean Embassy, 2320 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; (202) 939-5687.
History of North Korea - Offers a good overview of the history of North Korea.
History of South Korea - Provides a good overview of the history of South Korea.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
Chai, Alice Yun and others. GLOBAL FEMINISM THROUGH CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS AND INTEGRATIVE FEMINIST POLITICS: THE CASE OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the National Women's Studies Association (10th, Minneapolis, MN, June 22-26, 1988). ED 304 372.
Chun, Tuk Chu. "Korea in the Pacific Community." SOCIAL EDUCATION 52(March 1988), 182. EJ 368 177.
Cumings, Bruce. THE TWO KOREAS. New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1984.
FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW ASIA 1990 YEARBOOK. Hong Kong: Review Publishing Company, 1990.
Fleming, Dan B., and Burton I. Kaufman. "The Forgotten War: Korea." SOCIAL EDUCATION 54(January 1990): 35-38. EJ 404 422.
FOCUS ON ASIAN STUDIES. Special Issue: "Korea: A Teacher's Guide." No. 1, Fall 1986.
Kaltsounis, Theodore, and Se Ho Shin. "South Korea--A Country on the Move." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988), 137-39. EJ 376 891.
Lee Ki-baik. A NEW HISTORY OF KOREA. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1984.
Lee Sang-sup. "The Arts and Literature of Korea." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988): 153-60. EJ 376 894.
Lee Young-sook, Jae-taik Yoo, and Jacqueline Johnson, eds. TEACHING ABOUT KOREA: ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY ACTIVITIES. Seoul, Korea, and Boulder, Colorado: Korean Educational Development Institute and Social Science Education Consortium, 1986. ED 292 718.
Lew, Seok Choon. "Life in South Korea Today." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988): 161-64. EJ 376 895.
Macdonald, Donald Stone. THE KOREANS, CONTEMPORARY POLITICS AND SOCIETY. Second edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
Moulden, Rick. LETTERS FROM SOUTH KOREA. Seattle: University of Washington East Asia Resource Center, 1988.
RESOURCES AND RESOURCE CENTERS: AFRICA, KOREA, LATIN AMERICA, MIDDLE EAST, SOUTH ASIA, SOUTHEAST ASIA SOVIET UNION, AND EASTERN EUROPE. New York: Columbia University, 1989. ED 323 133.
Shin, Se Ho. "South Korea and the Future." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988): 194-95. EJ 376 899.
VanDecar, Patricia. "Teaching About Korea in Secondary School." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988): 177-93. EJ 376 898.
VanDecar, Patricia. "Teaching Elementary School Children about Korea." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 79(July-August 1988): 170-76. EJ 376 897.
Youm, Kyu Ho and Michael B. Salwen. PRESS FREEDOM AND SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS IN THE FAR EAST: THE CASE OF SOUTH KOREA. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (71st, Portland, OR, July 2-5, 1988). ED 297 329.