How the resources below link to the Citizenship curriculum
Mainly GCSE, but also KS3:
- ‘Other systems and forms of government, both democratic and non-democratic, beyond the UK’.
- The UK’s relationship with the rest of the world (including the UK’s role within the UN and EU sanctions, and how the UK has assisting in resolving international disputes and conflicts).
- Parliament holding the government to account.
- Pressure groups.
The shifting relationship between the USA and North Korea from mid-2017 to mid-2019
- This Newsround article, including videos, gives a good basic overview of North Korea, including its political structure as a dictatorship.
- Lots of strong nuclear weapons threats were made by Donald Trump to Kim Jong-Un, and vice-versa, between August 2017 and February 2018, including: Trump’s “They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen”*; the North Korean response ‘Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness’; and Trump’s subsequent claim at the UN that if North Korea didn’t desist from threatening the US or its allies ‘We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea’ (video clip from 1.32 to 2.23). *(As some commentators have noted, Trump’s wording was strikingly similar to Truman’s threat to Japan during his announcement of the Hiroshima atomic-bombing: that if they didn’t surrender “they may expect a ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth”.)
To focus on the relevance of these mutual threats to the UK, see:
- Updates on the government’s stance on North Korea.
- The 2018 Defence Select Committee inquiry into the threat posed by North Korea to the UK.
- The work of CND, as a pressure group, to encourage US-North Korea diplomacy and disarmament.
The threats quotes can be presented engagingly with images, or via the latter video clip, to most Secondary ages and abilities, and tend to stimulate a lot of discussion. The UK resources are best suited to higher-ability KS3 or GCSE students.
Singapore and Vietnam summits
- There are good BBC summaries of the June 2018 Singapore summit between Trump and Kim, including concise but varying analysis from experts as to what was actually agreed and who had gained the most, here and here.
- In September 2018 Trump announced to supporters that ‘We were going to war with North Korea’ (video clip from 0.00-0.32) but that their diplomacy had averted this (he subsequently made a similar claim in his February 2019 ‘State of the Union’ address (video from 3.14 to 4.14), though the most recent analogous statement is from June 2019 (video from 0.00-1.15).
- In February 2019, Trump and Kim met for a second summit, in Vietnam, but the talks broke down. The US claimed it could not agree to North Korea’s demand that all economic sanctions be lifted in exchange for the dismantlement of its main nuclear weapons facility (video from 0.53-1.32); in contrast, North Korea said that it had only requested the lifting of those sanctions “that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people”.
To focus on the relevance of these negotiations to the UK, see:
- The government’s statements welcoming the Singapore and Vietnam summits but calling for further work to ensure North Korean ‘denuclearisation’ (a disputed term), and outlining its own role on this front.
- The government’s guidance on arms export sanctions to North Korea; and the full UN and EU sanctions on North Korea (the UK of course being part of both organisations as of May 2019; the UN has investigated multiple suspected violations of the sanctions).
The summits analyses and UK sources are best suited to higher-ability KS3 or GCSE students, although they could be differentiated via scaffolding (and the UN sanctions webpage is more visual and accessible than the others). The Trump video clips can be used effectively with all Secondary ages and abilities.
No North Korean denuclearisation?
- Following the Singapore summit, many experts argued that Trump’s claim that ‘There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea’ was premature. In January 2019, the USA’s national intelligence director told the US Senate that North Korea is ‘unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities’ as its leaders see nuclear weapons as ‘critical to regime survival’.
- However, the USA’s special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, asserted in March 2019 that complete North Korean denuclearisation was achievable within a year – an optimism echoed in this Trump tweet in April 2019.
- Yet Kim announced in the same month “the need to more vigorously advance … Self-reliance and [a] self-supporting national economy … the bedrock of the existence of our own style socialism … to deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who go with bloodshot eyes miscalculating that sanctions can bring the DPRK to its knees”. Subsequent (sometimes conflicting) statements from the two leaders and other officials are outlined in these Reuters andGuardian pieces.
- Kim also met Russia’s President – Vladimir Putin – in April 2019, which some commentators saw as an attempt to improve North Korea’s economic situation without relying on the US to lead on the lifting of sanctions. This Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists piece offers a more nuanced analysis, for example questioning whether North Korean denuclearisation is a priority for Russia.
- Following North Korea’s short-range missile tests in May 2019, Trump announced: “Nobody’s happy about it … I don’t think they are ready to negotiate.” However, he appeared to contradict US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who noted that the tests contravene UN Security Council resolutions that demand an end to North Korean ballistic missile activity, “I view it differently … there have been no nuclear tests, no ballistic missiles going out …”. Trump also played down the tests as “some small weapons” in a tweet, adding “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me”.
The statements can be used as stimuli for discussion with most Secondary ages and abilities; the pieces on the Kim-Putin meeting are suitable for high-ability GCSE students, although they could be scaffolded for KS3.
How to use these resources in your classroom
- In small groups, students could study one or more of the resources (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), and then prepare and deliver group presentations on (for example) their analysis of the achievements (or lack of) of the actions of the UK government and/or CND regarding US-North Korea diplomacy.
- Alternatively, students could write their own ‘news reports’ on the negotiations, from the point of view of US, North Korean or South Korean state media (see also our media bias resources webpage). These could then be read out (or performed) later in the lesson, or in the following lesson if set as homework.
- Having researched different perspectives on the prospects of North Korean denuclearisation (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), the class could host a debate on how likely it is, or how reasonable it is for the West to demand it.
About this webpage
This webpage is one of six collections of topic-specific resources that could be used as part of the Citizenship classroom and homework activities referred to in the ‘Additional information and guidance for Citizenship teachers’ insert of our Truman On Trial pack. To access the pages on the other five topics, click here.
If you’d like further advice on how to implement any of the teaching suggestions from the resources webpages, or the insert, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.