Understanding the Korean Peninsula in the 21st Century: Political, Economic, and Security Issues in the Asia/Pacific Region

"Understanding the Korean Peninsula in the 21st Century: Political, Economic, and Security Issues in the Asia/Pacific Region seeks to introduce students to challenges and opportunities presented by policy options for U.S. and Japanese relations with the Korean Peninsula at the turn of the century. By identifying and examining these options, students will gain an awareness of U.S., Japanese, and Korean perspectives on political, economic, and security issues." (text taken from SPICE)
Published 1997 (179 pages) For Secondary - Community College students. Hardcover - $49.95
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education
Citation Key
Curriculum Unit
Average: 1.5 (2 votes)


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Understanding the Korean Peninsula in the 21st Century

Field of Interest/Specialty: ESL
Posted On: 01/11/2016

Review by: Anne Kamstra Keeler, Adult ESL Teacher, Beginnings Calvary Episcopal Church
Age level: High School Students
The previous review of this curriculum unit describes it quite thoroughly, so I will focus on its use in 2016. I would have rated this unit a five if it were updated (it was published in 1997). It is very well done and detailed but with the passing of almost twenty years most of the lessons are outdated. Lesson 1 Historical Legacies: The Japanese Colonization of Korea (including a handout on Lost Names) and Lesson 2 Historical Legacies: The Korean War: Perspectives from Leaders could be used in a history class or East Asian/Korean History Class. Lessons 3-7 would need a lot of work to update them; for example, in Lesson 3 Korea's Contemporary Political Situation: A News Conference, the handouts include ones on Bill Clinton, Kim Young Sam and Ryutaro Hashimoto. My hope is that SPICE will update this unit for the 21st Century (like its title!) and have it online instead of in notebook form.

Review of Understanding the Korean Peninsula in the 21st Century

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 05/30/2010

The curriculum unit titled “Understanding the Korean Peninsula in the 21st Century: Political, Economic, and Security Issues in the Asia/Pacific Region” was produced by SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education-A Program of the Institute for International Studies). It is the second part of a three-part curriculum series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future relationships between the United States and the Asia/Pacific region. This unit in particular focuses on the challenges and opportunities of U.S. and Japanese relations with the Korean Peninsula by investigating the past through lessons centered on history and exploring the future through the political, economic and social realms. It is designed for high school students and would lend itself to the social studies discipline, particularly in an economics, government, or current events course.
The unit consists of seven separate lessons. Lessons one through three focus more on the historical context of the Japanese, American, and Korean relationships, whereas lessons four through seven are more concerned with present and future relations between the countries. Lesson one gives a historical overview of the relationship between the Japanese and Korea prior to and during Japanese colonization (1910-1945). The second lesson looks at past U.S. relations with Korea including the Korean War (1950-1953). Lesson three explores the political situation of North and South Korea as well as U.S. and Japanese relations with these countries. The fourth lesson challenges students to compare the present economic situations in North Korea, South Korea, the United States and Japan thorough a role playing scenario in which they must decide where to build a car factory using economic data on the aforementioned countries. Lesson five explores the issue of nuclear weapons and security in terms of U.S. foreign policy towards the Korean Peninsula. The sixth lesson investigates civil rights with a specific focus on how the issue of Korean civil rights in Japan has affected relationships between the two countries. Lesson seven finishes up the unit by considering various scenarios of Korean reunification, including U.S. and Japanese insights on reunification.
All of the lessons in the unit utilize a wide variety of resources and primary source materials, such as maps, case studies, political cartoons, speeches, and interviews. The approaches to the lessons in this unit are very student-centered and develop critical thinking skills as students explore the interaction of historical, political, economic, and security issues applicable to the Asia/Pacific region. The only concern is that this material was published in 1997. Obviously, the lessons and materials that are historical in nature remain unchanged. However, some of the economic data and current event materials may need updated and revised in order to give students a more accurate depiction of the current situation. Additionally, the curriculum unit suggests taking two to three class periods for each lesson. For many teachers, this may be an unrealistic period of time to spend on this topic of study. Both the lessons and the supplemental materials can be easily adapted to fit into any relevant curriculum for any specified period of time. While the unit is extremely effective and designed for use as a whole, it can definitely be separated and spread throughout a course(s) while still meeting the intended goals of the unit.