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Draft guidelines for history textbooks faced with controversy

Draft guidelines for history textbooks faced with controversy

Posted February. 13, 2018 07:56,   

Updated February. 13, 2018 07:56


It is confirmed on Monday that North Korea’s invasion of South Korea on the outbreak of the Korean War will be included again in history textbooks to be used at South Korean middle and high schools from March 2020.

Draft guidelines for new history textbooks drawn up by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Eval‎uation have triggered controversy as they did not make it clear that the Korean War started when the North invaded the South on June 25, 1950.

The establishment of the Republic of Korea in 1948 will be replaced with the establishment of the Republic of Korea Government as planned. In an address on the 72nd anniversary of liberation, President Moon Jae-in said the year 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Provisional Republic of Korea Government as well as the founding of the Republic of Korea. President Moon regards the year 1919 when the Provisional government was established as the founding of the Republic of Korea, not the year 1948. In May last year, he scrapped state-issued history textbooks where the year 1948 was described as the year of the founding of the Republic of Korea.

Political parties will continue to have heated debate over whether to use “free democracy” or “democracy.” “Although there may be some problems in the process of gathering opinions, the expression‎ of democracy is not wrong,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Kim Sang-gon in a press conference held Monday. Democracy was used in the revised curriculum during the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration while free democracy was used in the curriculum during the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations. Historians and teachers predict that ruling and opposition parties will be able to come to a conclusion after local elections in June, as the ruling party is pushing for constitutional amendment.

The Education Ministry will review the final report prepared by the curriculum institute in early March and confirm‎ and notify the revised guidelines as late as June. It is already four months behind the originally planned schedule, which concerns many about poorly and hastily made textbooks.

To distribute new textbooks from March 2020, there are only eight months left for the publisher to develop textbooks and seven months left for the screening. The ministry plans to increase the number of examiners and shorten the screening period to secure more time for writing.

Kyung-Im Woo woohaha@donga.com · Woo-Sun Lim imsun@donga.com