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Week 7 Reading Homework -A Tale of Two Countries

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Some call it the "Hermit Kingdom." It is a place where the outside world has been walled off. American pop music is illegal here and you can get executed for watching soap operas. This is not a make-believe world in a science fiction novel. It's a 46,000 square mile nation hanging off the east coast of China. It is one of the poorest nations in the world and it is armed with nuclear weapons. It is North Korea.

Immediately to the south lies a nation with one of the world's richest economies. About one-third of all phones and TVs are made here. The people of this nation are among the world's most educated. Unemployment is low, job security is high, and workers in this nation enjoy the highest salaries in Asia. It is South Korea. The people of this nation share origins with their northern neighbor, but they have since grown far apart.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (known to Westerners as North Korea) was founded in 1945 after World War II. Their neighbor at the end of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea or the Republic of Korea, was established at the same time. These two nations have an unusual history. For one thing, they have technically been at war since 1950.

Though they were born at the same time, these two countries had different parents. The United States supported South Korea in its infancy. China and the Soviet Union supported North Korea. The U.S. and the Soviet Union may have ended World War II as allies, but they had different ways of organizing their societies.

The U.S. is a capitalist country. That means that some people are rich and some people are poor. Resources are distributed unevenly. Business are owned by private entities. The Soviet Union claimed to have a communist system. That means that everybody supposedly gets the same. Resources are distributed more evenly. Business are owned in "common" by the government. These two superpower nations raised North and South Korea in their own images.

North Korea and South Korea share a border. Since they are locked in state of perpetual war, it's not a regular boarder with a simple checkpoint. The border they share is known as a "demilitarized zone." A demilitarized zone is supposed to be free from military installations. Yet, the Korean Demilitarized Zone is the most heavily militarized border in the world. Both nations have their biggest guns lined-up on the divide and pointed at the other side. It is literally the opposite of what the phrase "demilitarized zone" implies.
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The two Koreas went to war in 1950. The North attacked and took over much of South Korea. But the United States jumped in and pushed the North Koreans back to the Chinese border. Then China got involved and pushed the Americans and South Koreans back. The nations agreed to a ceasefire. Millions of people were dead and the living returned to their original boundaries. The war never officially ended, though combat has ceased for the most part.

After the war, South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world. In 1960 the average citizen made $79 a year. The country did not have a lot of natural resources to sell, but they did have many hardworking people. During the 1960s, the country began manufacturing labor-intensive products. Selling these products to people in other nations made South Korea rich. They now have one of the largest and most thriving economies in the world. As of 2012, the average South Korean citizen makes around $32,020 a year.

The economy of North Korea is dramatically different. Since it's birth in the 1940s, North Korea has been one of the most secluded countries in the world. They promote an idea of self-reliance that they call Juche. Under this idea, they do little to no trading with other nations. Up until the 1980s, they received large cash infusions from China and the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union fell apart in the 80s and became separate capitalist countries, of which Russia is largest. Without the Soviet contributions, North Korea entered a long period offamine that lasted through the 90s. Food was hard to come by and some estimate that millions of people starved to death. Still, the country persisted when much of the world thought that it would fall apart. Not only did they survive, they managed to build a nuclear arsenal during this time.

Some day Korea may be unified again. It seems unlikely now, but stranger things have happened. Yet, even if they did unify, how could these very different societies acclimate to one another? They have grown in different directions. One country is among the wealthiest, the other amongst the poorest. The average North Korean male is estimated to be five-inches shorter than a South Korean (some suspect because of malnutrition). With such big differences, will they ever be able to see eye to eye

1. Which term best describes South Korea based on information from the text?

a. capitalist                                                                  b. communist

c. socialist                                                                   d. totalitarian

2. Based on the author's tone and viewpoint, which person would most likely disagree with the conclusions drawn in this text?

a. An American businessman                                      b. A South Korean businessman

c. A North Korean politician                                      d. A South Korean politician

3. Which statement would the author most likely agree with?

a. The Korean War was a major win for the United States of America.

b. North Korea is poor because they don't trade with many other nations.

c. South Korean people are naturally more gifted than their northern brethren.

d. The South Korean economy grew at an average pace after 1960.

4. Which statement best expresses the main idea of the seventh paragraph?

a. South Korea was a very poor nation in 1960.

b. South Korea makes a lot of money by trading natural resources.

c. South Korea had a remarkable economic turnaround.

d. South Korea produces many electronic products.

5. Which statement best describes the results of the Korean War?

a. The South Koreans gained a lot of ground after winning the war.

b. The North Koreans benefitted tremendously from the war.

c. The Korean War led to the formation of South Korea.

d. Both sides lost many people and got little to show for it.

6. Which best defines the word famine as it is used in the eighth paragraph?

a. A period of time when food is scarce

b. A period of time when it is hard to get laborers

c. A period of time when the government is going through a transition

d. A period of time when a country does not have a leader

7. What is ironic about the Korean Demilitarized Zone?

a. It is not the average border with a simple checkpoint.

b. It is free from military installations and weaponry.

c. It is the most militarized border in the world.

d. The North and South Koreans are technically still at war.

8. Which best describes how the text is structured in the fifth paragraph?

a. Chronological order                                     b. Compare and contrast

c. Sequence                                                                  d. Problem and solution

9. Which best explains why so many North Koreans starved during the 1990s?

a. The North Koreans had just recently lost the Korean War.

b. The North Koreans were abandoned by their allies in the U.S.

c. North Korea became a capitalist country.

d. The Soviet Union stopped supporting North Korea.

10. Which statement would the author most likely disagree with?

a. It is impressive that the North Koreans built nuclear weaponry during a famine.

b. The North Korean economy has made an amazing transformation since the 1960s.

c. North and South Koreans have grown to be different, but they come from the same place.

d. Unification of the two Koreas is unlikely at this time.
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