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“Disparaging Modern Korean History Should be Redressed”

“Disparaging Modern Korean History Should be Redressed”

Posted January. 25, 2005 22:50,   


The Textbook Forum, which is represented by Professor Park Hyo-jong of Seoul National University, held its first general assembly on Tuesday at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. The forum is established by scholars who advocate redressing modern history textbooks that mislead students into having biased perspectives of history.

“We are seeing a disparity of cognition; for example, we cheer for Korea when we watch a soccer game, but learn things that lash out against Korea in classes,” said the professor at the founding declaration. “Current textbooks only describe dictatorship, repression, and grim aspects of capitalism.” He also pointed out that Korea’s national identity would be restored only when history is reinterpreted based on facts, truth, and reason.

The Textbook Forum will hold a symposium four times annually and work to correct distorted textbooks through giving public lectures and writing alternative textbooks.

Four professors gave lectures at the symposium following the opening ceremony: Jeon Sang-in, professor of Sociology at Hallym University, on “Independence and Founding process of Korea”; professor Shin Ji-ho of Sogang University on “North Korean History and Inter-Korean Relations”; Lee Dae-geun, professor of Economics at Ewha Womans University, on “Korea’s Economic Growth and Industrialization”; and Kim Il-yeong, professor of Political Science at Sungkyunkwan University, on “History Textbook? Or Textbook for Race and Democratization?” The lecturers argued that modern and contemporary history textbooks for high school students distort and deceive Korea’s modern history since they take stances of emotional nationalism, revisionism that lost its relevance after the collapse of the Cold War, and pro-North Korean perspectives.

More than 150 people from various sectors including civil groups, such as North Korea Democratization Forum, Liberty Union, emeritus Professor Han Heung-su of Yonsei University, and Professor Lee Dong-bok of Myongji University, attended the assembly.

Yi-Young Cho lycho@donga.com