North Korean lesson: Geometry kills

How do you motivate kids to learn geometry? A North Korean video tells kids they can use it to kill Americans, writes Marc Ambinder on The Compass.

After a rabbit-chasing intro, Sopal runs into a classmate and tells him he doesn’t need to listen in class. The homework is easy because the degrees are printed on his compass.

Back in his room, Sopal begins to do the homework. But he’s confused. The question asks him to draw a 30 degree angle and a 90 degree angle. He tries, but he pencils in between the two and draws a helmet with the letters “US” on them. Frustrated, Sopal turns his compass into a gun, and pantomimes several shots at the U.S. helmet he has just drawn.

Then he dreams.

His homework paper turns into a bird that turns into a scene of attack. U.S. battleships approach. The boy has to muster his friends to help fight off the Americans.

Yes, pencils turns into rockets. Desks transform into tanks. Martial songs fill the background.

And yes, the boy must save the day at the end by actually using the protractor as its intended, because he needs to align the rocket properly in order to hit the invading U.S. ships.

Much of my high school math classes were devoted to calculating the height of a flagpole by its shadow. My father said this would prepare me to calculate gun elevations so I wouldn’t flunk out of artillery OCS. “It’s bad enough being an officer,” he said. “You don’t want to be an enlisted man.”

So I see where North Korea is going with this.

About Joanne


  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Perhaps we can use this to motivate US students ala the cold war! “Learn Geometry, or when the Norks invade, you’ll be toast!”

    We can combine it with a screening of the Red Dawn remake…

  2. “’It’s bad enough being an officer,’ he said.”