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Sunday, 8 April 2007

Baekdu Mountain belongs to...

Korea has had a long history. Part of this included foreign invasions, occupation by the Japanese, and division of the country after the Second World War. Korean children are extremely aware of their history and are very knowledgeable of current issues and conflicts. Not to discredit Canadian students back home, but try asking a handful of students what year Canada became a country and they will give you a confused look. Try it out!

Once important issue that lies deep inside the hearts of Koreans is Baekdu Mountain, which lies on the border between North Korea and China. Known as Changbai Mountain to the Chinese, there has been a long history of disputes over the regional history of the mountain. China and North Korea agreed to share the mountain in the 1960s, but today there has been a rash of events that has reignited the controversy.

China has started promoting tourism, building infrastructure, and even tried to declare the mountain as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and even a bid for a Winter Olympic games to be held at Baekdu. These activities obviously will create a stronger Chinese presence around the mountain. At the 2007 Winter Asian Games, a Korean team of speed track skaters held up placards that said, "Mount Paektu is our territory'' during their silver medal award ceremony. This ignited a rift between China and South Korea, with the Chinese declaring this political action against the terms of the IOC. Whoa...talk about rocking the boat!

Alright, enough of the history lesson. I recently learned about this controversy and wanted to find out more about it. Soooo...what better way than to ask a class of Korean students and break out the digital camera in the process? Koreans have a lot of pride in their country and are very nationalistic. I read essays where students say "...some Koreans don't like kimchi. I don't understand them." Anyways, here's a short clip of my class reacting when I tell them that "Baekdu Mountain belongs to China." Do not try this at home folks, I risked my life for this video. I've received various death threats over this but I'm glad I got out of the class unscathed.

Enjoy the video. Every time I film this class, John (the kid screaming at the end) seems to take full advantage of this opportunity to go crazy (along with the girls in the front row):


Jarson said...

Hey, the kids are cute.

I bet you have really good time teaching.

Gary said...

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, these kids are a load of fun. They make the time whiz by!

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