Students explore North Korea challenges
By Quentin Brown '19
On Friday, December 1st, students in the new Bullis course "Contemporary Global Issues" and the Humanities and Global Studies Capstone took a trip to downtown D.C. to attend a program sponsored by the World Affairs Council.
The day-long session was attended by more than 150 students from 10 schools, with students traveling from as far as Annapolis and Richmond to attend. We started the day with a simple exercise analyzing political cartoons relating to North Korea. This gave us the chance to converse with the students at our tables. After this activity, we heard from two different speakers: Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, the United States representative to the six party talks, and South Korean policy specialist Soojin Park.
Both speakers told their stories, shared their experience working in Korea, and gave insights into the North Korean perspective. Both presentations were extremely educational and helped students gain a better understanding of North Korea, especially the people. They both made the point that North Korean people are not exactly like they are portrayed in the media. For example, while people in some areas of the country face limited resources, in other areas there is a middle class. The speakers portrayed the human aspect of the situation. Also, while many of the people want reunification, the North Korean government sees reunification as a threat to their power. Further, the government views nuclear weapons as having a deterrent effect which can be used as leverage in the region.
We also participated in a simulation of the Six Party Talks, with students taking on the role of countries including Japan, China, the United States, North and South Korea and Russia. Through discussion, we sought to reach some compromises and possible solutions to military and trade conflicts.
Our final speaker of the day was Jenny Town from the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Studies. She helped students to better understand the realities of life in North Korea and provided information about the North Korean weapons program.
The students left feeling more informed about North Korea and better able to understand the complicated road to peace in the region.