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May 7, 2018

Use this study guide with your students ahead of the U.S-North Korea summit

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  • First, watch the video, “North and South Korea make concessions toward ending hostilities.”
  • There are signs of progress just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un met during an historic summit in late April. Both men met on South Korean territory, in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two nations.
  • In this photo, Moon Jae-in and Kim walk together at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the DMZ separating the two Koreas. (Photo via Reuters.)
  • North Korea announced it would re-sync its time zone with South Korea’s starting Saturday. In 2015, they had set clocks 30 minutes behind Seoul. South Korea said it would remove the loudspeakers that blast propaganda into the North.
  • Next, read the article “Trump says time, place set for planned U.S.-North Korea summit.” The President didn’t divulge when and where the meeting will take place.
    • A few months ago, a meeting with Kim seemed highly unlikely given the insults Kim and Trump had traded with one another. Most of the debate centered around North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. However, Trump unexpectedly accepted the offer from Kim after he agreed to discuss “denuclearization” and suspend tests of nuclear and ballistic missiles.
  • In this photo, U.S. Central Intelligence (CIA) director Mike Pompeo met with Kim in Pyongyang, North Korea, over Easter weekend during a secret visit later made public. It was the highest level meeting between the U.S. and North Korea since 2000. The purpose was to discuss a peace treaty to officially end the 1950-1953 Korean War. (Photo via Reuters.)
Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: How might diplomacy play a key role in solving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula?
  2. What do you know about the Korean War? Why was the war fought and why did it officially never end?
  3. Why do you think President Trump agreed to meet with Kim? Why did Trump’s decision come as a surprise to many people?
  4. Trump said that he will meet with South Korea to assure them that the U.S. will not leave the DMZ. Why are tens of thousands of American servicemembers stationed on bases at and near the DMZ? Why has South Korea expressed concerned if U.S. troops pull out?
  5. Mike Pompeo was recently appointed by Trump to be his Secretary of State, which means Pompeo will be in charge of solving international conflicts through diplomacy as opposed to military means. What challenges might Pompeo face in his new role? How does this position differ from his previous role as CIA director?
  6. Do you think the progress between North and South Korea in recent weeks and months could be a positive sign for the meeting between the U.S. and North Korea? Why or why not?
Extension activity

Was it wise or risky for President Trump to have agreed to a potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un?

Watch the video, “Will potential U.S.-North Korea talks lead anywhere?” to learn more about the debate.

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