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[Diplomatic News] Korean, Chinese Teachers Discuss How Each Other’s History Is Taught

[Diplomatic News] Korean, Chinese Teachers Discuss How Each Other’s History Is Taught

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


Kim Ha-young teaches about China at Gocheon Middle School in Gyeonggi Province, but she has never been to China. Meanwhile, Yin Jinxue, a teacher at Ganquan Foreign Language Middle School in Shanghai, teaches about Korea and visited Korea for the first time this week. The two teachers met at a café in Insa-dong, Seoul last Saturday to share their teaching experiences.

“We can teach only what we know”-

Yin was one of 30 Chinese social studies teachers and education administrators who visited Korea from October 18 to 27 at the invitation of the Korea Foundation. The group attended lectures on Korea and toured Seoul and Gyeongju, where they visited cultural sites.

Kim: “Welcome to Korea. Where did you like the most in Korea?”

Yin: “I was most impressed when I visited Tongil Observation Platform and Imjingak. I could feel the reality of Korea as a divided nation, and I was reminded of mainland China’s relationship with Taiwan. Teaching is a pretty tough job, isn’t it?”

Kim: “I love all of my students, but there are some who cause trouble. When I look at students busy with private schools and tuition, I feel sorry for them that they have to live under so much stress at such a young age.”

Yin: “Preparing for university entrance examinations is like a war in China, too. In many parts of China including Jilin Province, students stay in school ‘till nine at night to study. How many hours do you teach?”

Kim: “I teach about 20 hours per week. But that is not enough for me to prepare for classes since there is other administrative work to do as well.”

Yin: “That must be a lot of work for you. Chinese teachers usually teach 10 hours per week. Each day, we normally spend two hours teaching and another two hours checking assignments. After that, we prepare for the next day’s classes.”

Kim: “That is like what Korea’s university professors have to do. How is Korea taught in China? The subject of China takes up a big portion of Korean textbooks. In world history class, students learn about every Chinese kingdom from ancient times, and in geography class they learn about China’s politics, economics and society. However, Korean students do not have a deep understanding of China and just recognize China as a rising big country.”

Yin: “Chinese students are not taught Korea in depth. When we teach ancient history of Asia, we include Korea and introduce Korea’s struggle against Japanese colonial rule. Chinese students also learn about Korea’s economic development. Yet, Chinese schools’ attention on Korea is still insufficient. So I am thinking of making a textbook on Korea with my colleagues who are visiting Korea with me.”

Kim: “That is a great idea. I am sure we will be able to understand each other better as there is a growing interest in China among Koreans.”

Yin: “Chinese people are increasingly interested in Korea amid the ‘Korean Wave.’ Many Chinese say that they can see China’s forgotten traditional culture in the Korean drama Daejanggeum. In fact, much of the Korean culture originated from China. But Korea seems to be better at preserving culture after adapting Chinese culture to suit itself.”

The hour-long meeting was friendly throughout, and the two teachers also chatted about various issues ranging from Korean women having beautiful skin to how to maintain control over students.

Jae-Young Kim redfoot@donga.com