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Korea and Japan’s relationship has become strained due to a trade dispute. On July 1st, Japan said they would stop sending certain materials that Korea needs to make smartphones and other devices. Japan’s actions have come after a Korean court ordered a Japanese company to compensate a group of Korean people $89,000 each. This angered the Japanese government.

Japan controlled Korea from 1910-1945. During this time, Japan forced Korean citizens to work without pay. Many Korean people were hurt during this time. In 1965, a treaty was made between the countries. The treaty brought peace and trade agreements. Japan paid Korea $800 million as part of the treaty.

For many years, this money was thought only to be for helping Korea’s development. That’s what the treaty said it was for.  However in 2005, never before seen documents from the treaty discussions were released. The documents showed that Korea asked for $364 million to compensate the Korean victims of WWII. Japan agreed and offered to compensate the victims themselves. Korea declined by saying they would pay the victims using part of the money Japan had given them. Despite this discussion, the victims were never fully compensated.

This new trade dispute is a continuation of an argument that has lasted decades. Japan continues to state that they fully compensated the victims after the 1965 treaty. However, Korea argues that the money Japan gave was not for the victims. They say it was for economic growth. Discussions are ongoing between the two countries but the anger does not seem to be going away.

Difficult words

Strained (adj): Not relaxed or uncomfortable.

Dispute (n/v): An argument.

Compensate (v): To pay money for something that wronged someone else.

Treaty (n): An agreement between two countries.

Victim (n): A person who has been harmed.

Economic (adj): About money or finances.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Match the Synonym!

 1. Strained A. An Agreement.
 2. Dispute B. Pay money.
 3. Compensate C. Finances
 4. Treaty D. Uncomfortable
 5. Economic E. Argument

True or False?

1. Korea has stopped sending some materials to Japan. T / F

2. A Korean court wants a Japanese company to pay money. T / F

3. Japan paid Koreans to work for them. T / F

4. Japan gave Korea money during the treaty. T / F

5. The Korean victims have now been paid all the money they need. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. has / Japan’s / Korea / strained / relationship / and / become

2. angered / This / the / Japanese / government

3. Korea / 1910-1945 / Japan / controlled / from

4. peace / brought / trade / agreements / treaty / The / and

5. for / Korea / $364 / that / asked / The documents / showed / million

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Growth Relationship Controlled
Compensate Treaty Peace

Korea and Japan’s ______________ has become strained due to a trade dispute. On July 1st, Japan said they would stop sending certain materials that Korea needs to make smartphones and other devices. Japan’s actions have come after a Korean court ordered a Japanese company to compensate a group of Korean people $89,000 each. This angered the Japanese government.

Japan _____________ Korea from 1910-1945. During this time, Japan forced Korean citizens to work without pay. Many Korean people were hurt during this time. In 1965, a treaty was made between the countries. The treaty brought _________ and trade agreements. Japan paid Korea $800 million as part of the treaty.

For many years, this money was thought only to be for helping Korea’s development. That’s what the __________ said it was for.  However in 2005, never before seen documents from the treaty discussions were released. The documents showed that Korea asked for $364 million to compensate the Korean victims of WWII. Japan agreed and offered to ______________ the victims themselves. Korea declined by saying they would pay the victims using part of the money Japan had given them. Despite this discussion, the victims were never fully compensated.

This new trade dispute is a continuation of an argument that has lasted decades. Japan continues to state that they fully compensated the victims after the 1965 treaty. However, Korea argues that the money Japan gave was not for the victims. They say it was for economic ___________. Discussions are ongoing between the two countries but the anger does not seem to be going away.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What do you think can be done to help the situation between Korea and Japan?
5. Do you think either country is right?
6. Does your country have a difficult relationship with any other countries?
7. Have you ever been to Korea or Japan?
8. Do boycotts work?
9. How important is trade to your country?
10. Where is the most popular place for people in your country to travel to?
11. What is the most important export for your country?
12. Should countries be punished today for things they did a very long time ago?
13. What is the worst thing to happen in your country?
14. Should politics between countries affect how the countries people interact with each other?
15. Does your country have anything in its history that people are not proud of?
16. Is it important to teach today’s children the faults of a country’s past?
17. Are there any countries that you wouldn’t visit for political reasons?
18. Have you ever participated in a boycott?
19. What is an import that your country couldn’t go without?
20. Do you think trade is a positive thing or should countries be more independent?