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Korea: North and South Resources

found in: social studies; 6-8; 9-12

Though the Korean War formally ended with the armistice on July 27, 1953, tension has persisted between the North and South, and as a consequence, between China and Russia and the United States. The following lessons and resources provide an overview of Korea’s long history and context for understanding today’s headlines.

Lesson Plans:

Korean Culture Through Folk Tales  ( PDF, 422 KB, 18 pgs.) Students in grades 6-8 examine Korean folk literature for evidence of Confucian ideals.

Dividing The Korean Peninsula  ( PDF, 398 KB, 14 pgs.) Students in grades 7-12 examine border conflicts to assess the division of the two Koreas.

Political And Religious Change And Continuity Over Time ( PDF 11pgs, 333 KB) Students in grades 9-12 investigate how the political and religious structure of Korea has changed over time.

An Economic Miracle – A Comparison ( PDF, 482 KB 13 pgs.) Students in grades 9-12 compare the economic transformations of Japan and South Korea.

Additional Lesson Plans:

Lesson Plans By Time Period In Korean History 
Lessons are grouped, ancient to present, under headings: Three Kingdoms, Unified Silla, Korya – Choson, and Contemporary.

Educational Resources (Korea Society)  Includes curriculum materials and lesson plans, media resources, monographs with lessons, and readings for general readers.

Arts/Culture (Korea Society) Lectures in history, arts, and culture.

Background Resources:


Korean Historical Periods 
History, culture, and maps. Describes the artistic production and significant political developments in major eras (7000 B.C. - 1910). (K-12)

Ancient Korea 
includes an essay, images, maps, and timeline. (6-12)

Asia for Educators
Annotated timeline covers 8000 B.C. - 21st century. (6-12)

Recent History:

Modern Korean History Portal 
Annotated timeline with photographs. (6-12)

Two Koreas: History At A Glance 
A brief historical essay and map explaining the political and military positions of North and South Korea. (6-12)

Today's Nuclear North Korea Is Yesterday's China: Lessons From History 
Compares China under Mao to North Korea today. (9-12)

The Reagan-Era Invasion That Drove North Korea To Develop Nuclear Weapons 
Argues that the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada led to North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons. (9-12)

North Korea’s Recent History of Random, Sudden, Violent Provocations 
Suggests that the North Korean government doesn’t understand what kind of provocation will lead its foes to retaliate. (9-12)

The Problem With North Korea Is China
Argues that North Korea is China’s proxy. (9-12)

How North Korea Cheats Sanctions 
Questions if U.N. sanctions can be effective. (9-12)

Current Events:

South Korea 
News, including commentary and archival articles from the New York Times. (6-12)

The Korean War 1950-53:

The Korean War: A History
Bruce Cumings’ 2010 history of the war online ( PDF 2 MB. 237 pgs.) Includes maps and photographs. (9-12)

The Korean War 
A West Point history of the war in 17 pdfs. (9-12)

“Your Future Is Very Dark” 
The story of former CIA agent John T. Downey, the longest held American captive of war. (9-12)


Korea History Timeline 
Animated Map covering 0 CE - Present. (K-12)

Korean History in Maps
(48:48) A lecture with slides. (9-12)

Research Guide for Korean Studies 
Online maps available from Harvard. (9-12)


The History of Korea - Learn Korean History in Under 12 Minutes  (11:34)
(6-12) A rapid presentation that describes Korea’s shifting relations with China and Japan.

North Korea's History Is Far More Complex Than 25 Years Of Aggression (3:37)
(6-12) Covers 1945 - Present.

A History of the Korean War (5:29)
(6-12) 1945-1953 (6-12)

Korean War Overview (16:11)
Post-WWII and Korean War in more detail. (6-12)

The Battle of Chosin (1:51:47)
American Experience’s The Battle of Chosin Reservoir (November 26-December 13, 1950). (9-12)

Korean War Memorial:

The Korean War Veterans Memorial 
The official memorial website. (K-12)

As with the Vietnam Memorial, there was controversy over the final design. The following three resources provide insight:

Architects Clash Over Korean War Memorial  (6-12)

Korean War Memorial Design Fails Again  (6-12)

Memorializing A “Forgotten War”: The Korean War Veterans Memorial In Context ( PDF, 8.6 MB, 56 pgs.)  This PDF includes a photo of the original winning design that was never installed. (9-12)


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