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Kim's Nuclear Gamble
teachers guide

Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans

What Brought Us to This Place?

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • What Brought Us to this Place?
  • Learning About Nuclear Weapons

  • Viewing the Documentary

    Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Negotiations
  • Going Further: Oral Histories
  • Additional Resources

  • Student Assignment Sheets
  • Key Dates/Events in U.S.-North Korea Relations
  • Learning About Nuclear Weapons
  • Preparing to Negotiate
  • Charting Escalation
  • Excerpts from Hiroshima by John Hersey
  • Lesson Objectives

    In this lesson students will:

    • Review a map of Korea
    • Compile a brief overview of North Korean and American positions through an examination of six key events

    Materials Needed

    • Computers with Internet access
    • Student Assignment Sheet: Key Dates/Events in U.S.-North Korea Relations

    Time Needed

    Approximately 90 minutes (45 minutes to prepare in groups, 45 minutes to share findings, complete the worksheet, and ask questions). The supplementary activity on the Cold War would add another 45 minutes.


    Divided into six groups, students will research the historical background of the tensions between the United States and North Korea.

    A. As a background resource, provide students with a map of North Korea available at one of the following Web sites. Students should also note the countries that border North Korea.

    1. http://www.atlapedia.com/online/maps/political/Korea_etc.htm offers a political map of North and South Korea
    2. http://geography.miningco.com/library/maps/blnorthkorea.htm is a commercial site (with advertisements) that offers a variety of maps, including a printable blank map of North Korea at: http://geography.miningco.com/library/blank/blxnorthkorea.htm should students wish to create their own graphics.
    3. Map on the FRONTLINE Web site

    B. Using FRONTLINE World's Web site as their resource, each group will research and present one of six issues that have contributed to the current situation. The Web site is "Face-Off: A Short History of the United States-North Korea Conflict"

    Divide students into six groups, and hand out the Student Assignment Sheet to each student. Each group is responsible for researching the events that occurred in one of the following years: 1948; 1968; 1976; 1991; 1994; 2002. After completing their section of the assignment sheet, the groups will reconvene. Students from each group will present their findings to the rest of the class and students will complete the other sections of the assignment sheets. By the end of the activity, each student will have a fully completed assignment sheet.

    Although all years are important, teachers should be sure that students understand the Agreed Framework of 1994, which they will discuss in greater detail in "Learning About Nuclear Weapons."

    Method of Assessment

    1. Students will show their familiarity with the map of North Korea and its immediate neighbors.
    2. Students should complete the Student Assignment Sheet.

    Supplementary Activities

    History teachers whose students may have been studying World War II and the Cold War may want to take this opportunity to have several students prepare a brief review of factors leading to the Cold War. For teachers whose curriculum has not yet reached this period in history, a brief overview with a focus on Yalta and the Cuban missile crisis is available at: http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/coldwar.html

    A more complete Cold War site, with links to key events for each decade from the 1940s to the 1990s is at: http://www.coldwar.org/.

    More able students might find grappling with the February 2003 opinion piece, "Coping With North Korea," interesting.

    Learning About Nuclear Weapons

    • Who Has Nuclear Weapons?
    • What is Nonproliferation?
    • What Are the Effects of Nuclear War?

    Lesson Objectives

    In this lesson students will:

    • Familiarize themselves with which nations have nuclear weapons
    • Familiarize themselves with the term "nonproliferation" and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
    • Look at excerpts from Hiroshima by John Hersey to see an eloquent journalistic account of the effects of the 1945 atomic bomb on Hiroshima

    Materials Needed

    • Computers with Internet access
    • Excerpts from Hiroshima by John Hersey
    • Student Assignment Sheet: Learning About Nuclear Weapons

    Time Needed

    For Parts A and B, approximately 90 minutes (45 minutes to look at the Web sites, 45 minutes to share findings and ask questions)

    For Part C (Hiroshima), approximately 90 minutes (45 minutes to read the excerpts, 45 minutes to discuss them and ask questions)


    Hand out copies of the Student Assignment Sheet: Learning About Nuclear Weapons and divide the class into groups of three or four. Each group will research which countries have nuclear weapons AND the attempts to control the spread of nuclear weapons (nonproliferation). They will also read excerpts from Hiroshima. Following their research and reading activities, students will complete their assignment sheets.

    A. Students will use the following Web sites to research which countries have nuclear weapons.

    B. Students will use the following Web site to learn about nuclear non-proliferation treaties: http://www.nti.org/h_learnmore/h3_tutorial.html

    (After entering the site, click on tutorial and scroll through to find sections that interest you. Section 5 has a fine discussion of North Korea's noncompliance with nuclear nonproliferation.)

    C. The Agreed Framework of 1994 is essential to understanding the present dilemma. Students should familiarize themselves with what the agreement states and what has happened since 1994.

    D. Students will read short excerpts from John Hersey's Hiroshima to learn more about the effect of nuclear weapons. The book was originally published as a full-issue article in the New Yorker magazine in 1946. Hersey focused on six people who were in Hiroshima at 8:15 AM on Aug. 6, 1945 when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb. The Bantam 1986 edition of the book includes "The Aftermath," a chapter written after Hersey revisited Hiroshima 40 years later. [Note: Page numbers refer to the Bantam 1986 edition (ISBN 0-553-26058-8)]

    Pages 1-2: The bomb is dropped
    Pages 25-6: Immediate effects of burns and radiation observed in hospitals
    Pages 34, 38-9: Thirst and rain
    Pages 76-78: Longer-term effects of radiation
    Pages 104-5: The Aftermath -- many years later

    Note: The excerpts from Hiroshima appear as an appendix at the end of this guide. Because of copyright restrictions, the excerpts will remain on the Web until Dec. 31, 2003.

    Method of Assessment

    1. Completion of Student Assignment Sheet: Learning About Nuclear Weapons.
    2. Participation in discussion, based on the excerpts from John Hersey's Hiroshima, of nuclear war's human consequences.

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