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[Editorial] What President Roh Really Thinks About KTEWU`s Anti-American Class

[Editorial] What President Roh Really Thinks About KTEWU`s Anti-American Class

Posted April. 30, 2003 22:35,   


The president has made comments on the anti-American class being held by the Korean Teachers` and Educational Workers` Union (KTEWU). The problem however seems to have arisen out of inconsistency in Roh`s position on the matter, causing confusion among South Koreans. President Roh has repeatedly stressed the importance of principles and consistency. His latest move however does not coincide with his pronounced political philosophy.

Last month on March 22, President Roh first made an official comment on the KTEWU class. When reported that the teachers` organization was holding an antiwar class, which included anti-American viewpoints, he ordered the Ministry of Education to review the legality of the class. In other words, he hinted that the anti-American class was not legal. Two days later though, he backed down from the dogmatic position.

"There is some exaggeration about the anti-Americanism class. In the process, people got it all wrong," he said.

A couple of days ago, he received the latest report on the KTEWU class. The Education Ministry briefed the president that the class materials used by the teachers` organization were likely to trigger anti-American sentiment among students. Nonetheless, President Roh backed down and directed that the matter not be considered any longer.

What`s more confusing, however, was his next comment. "The government reserves the right to teach values to children,” he said. “The organization should not direct this class without authority." What did and does he really mean? Was it okay to let the class go on once he found out the truth about it, or has the organization crossed some sort of unwritten political guideline? We would at least like to have a position from our president.

Actually, the matter is not that complex. Everyone knows that the anti-American class violates the neutrality of school education. Thus, all he had to do was stress that particular principle. President Roh blurred things, probably out of a conscious effort not to anger the organization members.

Of course, the Ministry of Education must have also been confused. It seems uncertain about the position it should take regarding the matter. Even without the anti-American class, our education has already been pushed to the extremes by the organization. And the president`s hazy stance on the matter is definitely cause for concern. As the president, Mr. Roh may like opinions in line with his own "views." But, since he is the president, he should distinguish personal matters from the position he should take on national agenda.