How the resources below link to the Citizenship curriculum

Mainly GCSE, but also KS3:

  • ‘Other systems and forms of government, both democratic and non-democratic, beyond the UK’.
  • The UK’s relationship with the rest of the world (including the UK’s role within the UN and EU sanctions, and how the UK has assisting in resolving international disputes and conflicts).
  • Parliament holding the government to account.
  • Pressure groups.

The shifting relationship between the USA and North Korea from mid-2017 to mid-2019

Mutual threats 

  • This Newsround article, including videos, gives a good basic overview of North Korea, including its political structure as a dictatorship.

To focus on the relevance of these mutual threats to the UK, see:

  • The work of CND, as a pressure group, to encourage US-North Korea diplomacy and disarmament.

The threats quotes can be presented engagingly with images, or via the latter video clip, to most Secondary ages and abilities, and tend to stimulate a lot of discussion. The UK resources are best suited to higher-ability KS3 or GCSE students.

A tweet by Donald Trump, published on 2nd January 2018, responding to the claim by Kim Jong-un the day before that ‘The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk.’  Image: Will C. Fry (Creative Commons license)

Singapore and Vietnam summits 

  • There are good BBC summaries of the June 2018 Singapore summit between Trump and Kim, including concise but varying analysis from experts as to what was actually agreed and who had gained the most, here and here.
  • In February 2019, Trump and Kim met for a second summit, in Vietnam, but the talks broke down. The US claimed it could not agree to North Korea’s demand that all economic sanctions be lifted in exchange for the dismantlement of its main nuclear weapons facility (video from 0.53-1.32); in contrast, North Korea said that it had only requested the lifting of those sanctions “that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people”.

To focus on the relevance of these negotiations to the UK, see:

  • The government’s guidance on arms export sanctions to North Korea; and the full UN and EU sanctions on North Korea (the UK of course being part of both organisations as of May 2019; the UN has investigated multiple suspected violations of the sanctions).

The summits analyses and UK sources are best suited to higher-ability KS3 or GCSE students, although they could be differentiated via scaffolding (and the UN sanctions webpage is more visual and accessible than the others). The Trump video clips can be used effectively with all Secondary ages and abilities.

No North Korean denuclearisation?

  • However, the USA’s special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, asserted in March 2019 that complete North Korean denuclearisation was achievable within a year – an optimism echoed in this Trump tweet in April 2019.
  • Yet Kim announced in the same month “the need to more vigorously advance … Self-reliance and [a] self-supporting national economy … the bedrock of the existence of our own style socialism … to deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who go with bloodshot eyes miscalculating that sanctions can bring the DPRK to its knees”. Subsequent (sometimes conflicting) statements from the two leaders and other officials are outlined in these Reuters andGuardian  pieces.

The statements can be used as stimuli for discussion with most Secondary ages and abilities; the pieces on the Kim-Putin meeting are suitable for high-ability GCSE students, although they could be scaffolded for KS3. 

How to use these resources in your classroom

  • In small groups, students could study one or more of the resources (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), and then prepare and deliver group presentations on (for example) their analysis of the achievements (or lack of) of the actions of the UK government and/or CND regarding US-North Korea diplomacy.
  •  Alternatively, students could write their own ‘news reports’ on the negotiations, from the point of view of US, North Korean or South Korean state media (see also our media bias resources webpage). These could then be read out (or performed) later in the lesson, or in the following lesson if set as homework.
  • Having researched different perspectives on the prospects of North Korean denuclearisation (either in the lesson or as preparatory homework), the class could host a debate on how likely it is, or how reasonable it is for the West to demand it.

About this webpage

This webpage is one of six collections of topic-specific resources that could be used as part of the Citizenship classroom and homework activities referred to in the ‘Additional information and guidance for Citizenship teachers’ insert of our Truman On Trial pack. To access the pages on the other five topics, click here.

If you’d like further advice on how to implement any of the teaching suggestions from the resources webpages, or the insert, just email