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New Right Textbook Sparks Controversy

Posted November. 30, 2006 06:49,   


A New Right modern history textbook is calling the May 16 military coup, known as the “5-16 military coup d´etat” in existing textbooks, the “5•16 revolution,” and is calling the 4-19 revolution “the 4•19 students’ movement.” A controversy is expected.

The Textbook Forum (Joint Representatives: professors at Seoul National University Park Hyo-jong and Lee Yeong-hoon, and a professor of Chungnam University Cha Sang-cheol), a New Right organization, revealed the tentative draft for a Korean modern history textbook on November 29.

This textbook calls the 5-16 military coup the “May Revolution” and defines it as “a revolutionary event that served as an epochal milestone for economic development.”

It also made the assessment that those who gained power through the incident “were well aware of the importance of an economic development as the general basis for the development of the nation and successfully led the economic development through a unique driving force.”

On the other hand, the 4•19 revolution was merely called the “4•19 students’ movement.”

Regarding the Yushin (revitalizing reform) system, it writes, “It was a system that guaranteed an indefinite term for the president who held second-to-none authority, and was a system that improved the nation’s ability to mobilize and execute resources to achieve national tasks.”

It also called the 5-18 Gwangju Democratization Movement the “5-18 Gwangju Democratization Resistance Movement” and said the causes of the incident were “alienation from development and anger over news about the arrest of Kim Dae-jung, a politician from the same region.”

Concerning the “Seoul Spring” protests in 1980, it writes, “The foggy political status gave rise to large scale demonstrations centered around universities in the spring of 1980, and gave the hard-line military faction an excuse to intervene with force.”

Mentioning the presidential election in 2002, it said, “Roh Moo-hyun, who belonged to the minor political stream standing for the 386 generation movement sector, was elected as the president.”

The book also said, “After democratization, “anti-liberalism” or “non-liberalism” became dominant in Korea.” It also assessed civil organizations, saying, “They chose to settle down as authoritative institutions armed with self-complacence and arrogance.”

On national development and the transfer of the administrative capital city, it used the expression that “it was a case where the government itself brought about the unplanned, rash development of the nation’s land.”

The Textbook Forum will hold a symposium at the Education Information Center, College of Education, Seoul National University (SNU) at 1:00 p.m. on November 30 to hear opinions on the alternative textbook.

The Textbook Forum is an organization consisting mainly of professors of the New Right, such as Ahn Byeong-jik, a fellow professor at SNU, Jeon Sang-in, a professor at SNU, Shin Ji-ho, a professor at Sogang University, and Yoo Seok-chun, a professor at Yonsei University.

In January last year, it disclosed new history textbook plans, saying, “The six textbooks of Korean modern history contain inherent methods of approach and revisionist views on history that only reflect a narrow and emotional understanding of nationalism and of the reality of North Korea which denies the orthodoxy of the Republic of Korea.” It has held five forums since to hear the opinions of experts.

Park Hyo-jong, a professor of National Ethics Education at SNU, said, “The textbook revealed a tentative draft which will go through amendments, reflecting criticism if necessary, and be published in March next year.”