Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying North Korea

I had the bright idea back in 2012 to take my kids on a pretend trip around the world during their summer vacation from school (see here for more on how it all started) and they liked it so much it became an annual thing.

This week was North Korea, which, believe me, is not easy to find material about. Also, when my kids chose North Korea for this week, we had no idea it was going to be so perfectly-timed with the "August crisis" between North Korea and the U.S. over potentially bombing off the coast of Guam.

So things got interesting. Want to follow along with us?

(This post contains my affiliate links, which means that if you use them to make a purchase I'll get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

Monday


North Korea is technically called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK.) The kids found it on the map and filled out their passport pages.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Their passports have spaces to write in the country name, the continent, what countries and waters border it, and so on. But my girls' favorite (probably because they're artistically inclined) is drawing the visa stamp for the country.

Of course their creations are a lot more detailed than actual visa stamps you'd receive at customs. This was my 13-year-old's:

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The hilarious thing was that this picture of Kim Il Sung (first dictator of the DPRK) was drawn from memory. My daughter saw lots of pictures of him while she was helping gather materials for this week and remembered what the Eternal President looked like.

We started by reading North Korea (Explore the Countries series) by way of very basic overview.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I could hardly have done this week without one amazing book: We Visit North Korea by Claire O'Neal. Almost every day, I pulled it back out to use sections of it for different parts of our "trip." Today, I read the traditional mythology story of where Korea came from, which is in Chapter 3.

We also used YouTube to listen to the DRPK's national anthem and a few traditional Korean instruments, the geomugo and the sohaegeum.

You guys, the sohaegeum is totally beautiful. Being a violinist, my daughter was fascinated because it's sort of like the violin but not. My son, who was less fascinated, could only be persuaded to stay in the room if he could draw robots as we listened.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Ten points to anyone who can somehow tie this robot into North Korea. I'm sure it can be done.

Tuesday


We read about the history of Korea from my new favorite book We Visit North Korea, including the Japanese occupation, the division into North and South Korea after WWII, and the Korean War where North tried to invade South.

That brought us almost up to the present, so we talked about what life is like in the DPRK today. (In case you weren't aware, it's pretty depressing. Life is heavily controlled, everyone has to publicly demonstrate their love for the current dictator, and no one is allowed to leave the country.)

The kids liked this YouTube video called "10 Everyday Things That Aren't Legal in North Korea" (#8 is pornography so if you aren't ready to answer 100 questions about what that is, you might want to skip 8:13 to 9:15.)


And then we watched the North Korea segment from the DVD National Geographic: Secret Access. Long story short: a cameraman  tagged along on a humanitarian trip to North Korea and took secret footage while posing as part of the eye surgeon's medical team. It wasn't a kids' DVD, but our 5-year-old was okay watching it, and how often do you get to see footage (aside from government propaganda) out of North Korea? (Answer: never, because it's totally illegal.)

It was a fascinating day, but I have to admit that by the end of it I was emotionally exhausted. I'm also reading The Book Thief (a YA novel about Nazi Germany) with my 13-year-old, and it was just a lot of communism for one day.

On a lighter note, we made kimchi using this recipe. Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage and vegetables that you have to leave out for several days before eating.

I got everything at my regular grocery store except for gochugaru (Korean red pepper) which I found at the Asian market in our town.
North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This 2-ton bag was $5. I love the Asian market.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
There is no way the kids are going to eat this. I can tell already.

Sometimes Phillip makes his own sauerkraut using a similar method, and it always makes me a little nervous. Something about DIYing fermented food always makes me wonder if we're going to die after eating it.

Wednesday


Today, we learned about the Korean language. We listened to the alphabet song and got familiar with what written Korean looks like in this video, and practiced counting one to ten here.

We wanted to learn "please" and "thank you" so the kids could use it at the dinner table this week. "Thank you" wasn't a problem, but there's no direct translation for "please" in Korean so we watched this video explaining how to ask politely, which the kids thought was funny:


Next, I showed them this video explaining how to write in hangul, the Korean alphabet.

I told the kids not to worry about remembering specifics, but just to look at how things are written in blocks. Then we looked at My First Book of Korean Words to see if they could spot the block writing.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I found a Korean language teaching site called Genki English that had some free games, so I gave the kids the option of playing a number matching game or a letter matching game for a while on the computer.

They may not have been the most complex games, but they had a glowing screen and no one in this house has turned down one of those yet.

Thursday


Questions about why North Korea is the way it is had been percolating in the kids' minds for a few days now, so we revisited the topic by reading What Is Communism? by Karen Latchana Kenney.

After reading the book, I gave each of the kids an assignment: imagine they wanted to convince a whole country of people about something, and make their own propaganda posters. They could pick any message, silly or serious, as long as it was something positive and not violent.

My 5-year-old went for something straightforward:

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
"Karate is awesome."

My 9-year-old decided hers would be silly. And you know, it does kind of make me want to get a goat.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I love how the house, trees,and car all have bites taken out of them by the goat.

My 13-year-old decided to pitch mayonnaise to her imaginary country. I'd say she has a future as a propaganda writer if anyone is looking for one:

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We wrapped it up by watching some YouTube videos of government-sponsored bands overlayed with pictures of Kim Jong Un and North Korea here and here.

Friday


The long-anticipated moment arrived when we finally tried out the kimchi for dinner. I thought long and hard about how to serve this in an appetizing way to the kids. I decided to go with the recipe author's suggestion of serving it on tacos with some shredded mozzarella.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It didn't really fool anyone and they all ended up eating a second dinner of fruit later that night, but at least one child (my most adventurous eater) loved it and went back for seconds.

We read My Freedom Trip: A Child's Escape from North Korea by Frances and Ginger Park, and it couldn't have been more perfect because the main character mentioned playing a Korean game called yut with her mom.

Yut Nori is an easy game to make yourself, so that's what we did. My son copied the game board and my daughter wrote "Yut Nori" in Korean on the sticks, and after watching this video a couple of times to get the rules, we tried it out using coins as game pieces.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

And let me tell you, we hard a hard time scrounging up four unused popsicle sticks after the crafting rampage my 5-year-old has been on.

In addition to the resources above, I gave my 13-year-old America at War: Korean War by John Perritano and also left just a few of the literally hundreds of Korean folk and fairy tales at my library around the house for the kids to look at, including:



Our visit to North Korea was certainly different, mostly because it's so hard to get information about the DPRK in the first place! But I really enjoyed it, and I think the kids did, too. They just never want to go there for real.

North Korea (DPRK) is a mysterious country that I honestly didn't know much about before this week. Here's how we learned all about it.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files

2 comments:

  1. Wow, this looks like such a packed week, and it all sounds really fascinating! The sohaegeum music is absolutely beautiful. It looks so interesting, too!
    Way to go making kimchi! That's pretty intense. Your comment about DIYing fermented food is funny, because I recently started fermenting stuff over here...and a couple weeks later, was sick for an entire week. I *think* the timing was coincidental, since there was a bad summer bug going around when I got sick, but who knows? Maybe I'm just good at almost killing myself when I make fermented food ;)

    ReplyDelete