Education About Asia: Online Archives

Tune in Korea: Geography and Society Teacher Resource and Video

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The rich history and culture of Korea, as well as its critical ties to our own nation, provide compelling reasons for including Korea in educational frameworks. Tune in Korea: Geography and Society is a solid resource for grades 6–9, laying the foundation for exploration of this culture, its history, and its place in contemporary society.

Produced by the Asia Society with support from the Korea Foundation, the book targets grades 6–9. The video is complimented by a teacher’s guide that includes background essays, supplementary readings, and lesson plans. Both resources are broken into thematic units: geography, language, history, education, belief systems, population and resources, and family life. The topics are well aligned with geography and history frameworks, offering thoughtful and appropriately thorough coverage for these grade levels. The lessons and materials are easily adapted to use with or without the video.

The video introduces American students collaborating on a media project using visuals culled from actual Korean news sources. Each segment begins with an introduction by the students and follows with media footage and narrated explanations that are clear, concise, and informative. As the segment ends, a section recap is offered. This clearly-defined format makes each segment an independently usable teaching tool.

There are a few challenges to the resource. As with any video, time itself is the greatest threat to contemporary content. In addition, the lack of access to media clips from North Korea narrows the scope of the information largely to South Korea. Finally, the black and white pictures in the teacher’s guide are poor quality reproductions. This is easily remedied by use of images available on the internet, as noted in the extensive reference list in the guide.

Tune in Korea is an excellent choice as an introductory or closing video for a unit on Korea. In the classroom with limited time available to the subject, it would serve well as the centerpiece for sharing information. Certainly, the use of readings and activities offers a rich compliment to a unit on East Asia. The real value of this resource is in the potential for project work that leaps out from every topic segment: generating hyperstudio, power point, travel brochures or infomercials; conducting debates or Socratic circle discussions on issues of gender, social programs for a graying population, or reunification; poster presentations for common economic ties between our nation and South Korea; graphic representations on the costs of reunification vs. maintaining separate governments; reflecting Confucian influence through short skits of family life; or jigsaw presentations by small groups on in-depth study of each thematic topic presented in the video.

Tune in Korea packs an enormous amount of information into a one hour video. Every segment offers critical information that both ties Korea to its geographical and cultural region of East Asia, and sets it apart as a unique nation; each segment invites further research into deeper understanding of the complex issues, concepts, and values that are introduced.