Introduction: Exploring and Teaching the Korean War

For many years, one of the fundamental principles of the Historical Association’s work on professional development for history teachers has been the value and importance of up-to-date subject knowledge. The importance of subject expertise is being increasingly recognised as a key driver in effective teaching and learning.

This commitment to making up-to-date cutting-edge scholarship available to teachers can be seen in the structure of the HA’s Teacher Fellowship Programme. Each programme involves a rigorous selection process for practising teachers. They then work with academic experts in the relevant field of historical scholarship and with experienced educators.

In the winter of 2017, we met Dr Jongwoo Han, president of the Korean War Legacy Foundation. He showed us the work that his foundation had been doing with both veterans and teachers in the USA and the work of World History Digital Education whose website boasts several fully resourced enquiries for American teachers to teach modern Korean history. In addition to this was a commitment to continue the work of gathering the oral testimony of troops who participated in the Korean War. This had already been started with American veterans and was being continued with British and Commonwealth veterans too. It was Dr Han’s hope that this project would bring the testimonies and the teachers of every nation that sent troops to the Korean War together and to ensure that the Korean War and its’ legacy do not become, as it is sometimes referred to in Britain as ‘The Forgotten War’.   

Given the importance of the Korean War in terms of the Cold War and international relations today, we at the HA jumped at the chance to work in partnership with the Korean War Legacy Foundation and World History Digital Education to provide a Teacher Fellowship programme for British teachers focused on teaching the Korean War. The 8 fully-resourced enquiries and complementary publication that you’ll find in this unit are the result of that Teacher Fellowship programme. We are grateful to the Korean War Legacy Foundation and World History Digital Education for funding the programme, and to all involved for their dedication and hard work in producing this resource.

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