Putting the Passings of Václav Havel and Kim Jong-il Into Context

Kim Jong-il

This weekend saw the passing of two significant figures in world history: Václav Havel, a former head of state who oversaw the switch from communism to democracy in the Czech Republic; and Kim Jong-il, the dictator and supreme ruler of North Korea until his death on Saturday. In the coming days, your students may hear snippets about these leaders, especially Kim Jong-il, who was considered by many to be an enemy of the United States and of the Western world. To help put their deaths ­ and the issue of communism itself ­ into context, we suggest showing our movies on Communism and the Korean War. In the former, Tim and Moby explain the origins of a controversial economic system ­ as well as why it’s been largely unsuccessful.­ In the latter, they describe the history behind the ongoing standoff between North Korea and most of the rest of the world. We also recommend our FYI on Kim Jong-il, which delves a bit further into his leadership and legacy.