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Lesson 4: The Korean Independence Movement 
Activity 4.1: How was the Korean Independence Movement Impacted by Wilson’s Fourteen Points?


Students situate President Woodrow Wilson's  Fourteen Points Peace Program and 1919 speech to congress in the development of the Korean Independence Movement. They examine the actions of Korean schoolgirls who participate in the protest of Japanese rule. They compose a letter to Wilson to encourage the United States to support the Korean Independence Movement.

Woodrow Wilson Portrait by Harris & Ewing, 1919. (Source: Wikipedia)


Activity Questions

  • How does the timeline for Korea's annexation by Japan and subsequent independence movement correspond to that of World War I?

  • What do Wilson's Fourteen Points say about imperialism, colonialism,  and self-determination?​

  • How was the Korean Independence Movement Impacted by Wilson’s Fourteen Points?

  • How did the United States government respond to Korea's hope of independence?

​Instructional Strategies

  • To support this activity, use the Lesson 4 Teacher's Guide and Lesson 4 Presentation found under Lesson 4.

Introduction to the Lesson

  • Invite students to share their understanding of imperialism (Imperialism is an ideology of extending the rule over peoples and other countries, for extending political and economic access, power and control, often through employing hard power. Lead them to the understanding that Japan wanted foreign resources in order to fuel their industrialization. 

The Korean Independence Movement

  • Review the slides that introduce pivotal events in Korea 1905-1919 and the ultimate annexation of Korea by Japan.

  • ​Show the video, How schoolgirls became independence fighters (4:18 minutes).  Invite students to share their reactions and let them know they will be studying this movement in more detail during Lesson 4, Activities 4.1 and 4.2.

Introduction to the Fourteen Points

  • Continue with an introduction to Wilson's Fourteen Points, situating his speech in the afterward of World War 1. Encourage students to share opinions on the importance of point five and Wilson's closing remarks.


  1. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at.

  2. Absolute freedom of the seas, alike in peace and in war.

  3. Equality of trade conditions.

  4. Reduction of national armaments.

  5. Adjustment of all colonial claims, with references to the wishes of the governed populations.  

  6. Evacuation of all Russian territory.

  7. Evacuation and restoration of Belgium.

  8. Evacuation of French territory and restoration of Alsace-Lorraine.

  9. Readjustment of the frontiers of Italy along lines of nationality.

  10. Autonomous development of the peoples of Austria-Hungary.

  11. Independence of Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro.

  12. Relinquishment of Turkish control over non-Turkish populations.  

  13. Establishment of independent Polish state with free and secure access to the sea.

  14. A league of nations to guarantee independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.


  • Assign students to complete the Activity 4.1 Worksheet (download below).  This might be completed individually, in pairs, or in small groups.​​

Closing Activity

  • Conduct a Think-Pair-Share activity by having students pair up and respond to one or more of the activity questions.​

Persuasive Letter

  • Have students take on the persona of Korean schoolgirls and compose a persuasive letter to President Wilson asking the US to take a position in favor of Korean Independence. See directions under Lesson 4 Assessments.


Activity 4.1 Worksheet on 14 Points (PDF)

Video: How Schoolgirls Became Independence Fighters

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