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Students will study the creation of the divide between North and South Korea, the ideological differences between them, the tensions that have resulted, and the concerns that the world has over North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons.
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1. In theory, North Korea is a communist nation, which calls for equal distribution of its wealth, a one-party political system and a single ruler of the nation. From what we know, how closely does North Korea's government resemble the one envisioned by Karl Marx's communist doctrine?
The nation is ruled by a dictator, Kim Jong IL, and there is essentially only one political party; however, economically, a great number of North Korea's citizens are experiencing staggering poverty, and so the country is not distributing the goods and services equally among its population. For more information on Marx's philosophy, see:)
2. China has decided recently to distance itself from the aggressive stance of North Korea, even though the two nations share a governmental and economic philosophy. Also, China along with the Soviet Union was the North's chief ally during the Korean War. Why do you think China has not thrown its support behind North Korea during the recent tensions? China, although technically a communist nation, has begun to open its trade markets. A huge amount of exported goods come from China, whereas North Korea is essentially closed off to trade with the rest of the world. Like North Korea, China has a huge military as well as nuclear weapons. China, though, has chosen to maintain its military primarily as a defense against possible aggression, not as a means to intimidate and create fear in other nations. For the most part, China has realized that isolationism in today's global marketplace is an imprudent practice. 3. Referring to the maps of the region, why might it be foolish for the North to once again invade the South as it had done in 1950? North Korea's alliances have changed markedly. The Soviet Union no longer exists, and Russia, the largest of the former Soviet republics, is now allied with Western nations such as the U.S., France and Great Britain. Communist China, although in theory an ally of North Korea, for economic and diplomatic reasons is reluctant to commit its massive military to her defense. Japan is now a close ally of the U.S., and if North Korea were to invade the island, the U.S. would be responsible for coming to its aid. Lastly, South Korea not only has a large standing army itself, but as the Online NewsHour article points out, it is also home to thousands of U.S. and United Nations troops. 4. Seoul, the political and economic capital of South Korea, is situated close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and would presumably be the first target by an attack by the North, many of whose missiles are fixed on the city. Why do you think Seoul continues to thrive as a city and economic force in the world despite the constant threat under which it lives? Seoul has the protection of both its own substantial military and that of the U.S. as well. Similar to Japan after World War II, Seoul, after the Korean War, was able to focus on developing as an economic power with the close assistance of Western market-driven nations such as the U.S. South Korea has been guaranteed the ongoing protection of the U.N. and the United States, and clearly benefits from the military presence. However, there has been growing resentment in the South Korean population of having American troops stationed in their country for so long. How the nation's economy would react if the forces pulled out remains to be seen.5. Discuss the responses as a class.