Facts vs. Interpretation in New School Textbooks?
SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- The government on Tuesday unveiled the final version of a state-authored school textbook amid an ongoing dispute over its interpretation of modern history.
The textbook for middle and high school students was unveiled during a press conference at the Ministry of Education in Sejong, 121 kilometers south of Seoul, following months of wrangling between conservative and liberal camps.
Liberals have accused the Park Geun-hye administration of reviving state-authored history textbooks to glorify the military dictatorship of Park's father, Park Chung-hee. Conservatives said change is needed to correct the "left-leaning tilt" of existing books that tend to be lenient towards North Korea.
After intense public debate, the new textbook was written with fuller descriptions of Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, including its sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. It also acknowledged that the Saemaeul Movement was a "state-led" reform project to overcome poverty after the 1950-53 Korean War.
One of the disputes centered on the description of the date Aug. 15, 1948. While the government has designated it as the foundation day of the Republic of Korea, historians argued it should be known as the foundation day of the government of the Republic of Korea as the country already existed in the form of a government-in-exile.
In announcing guidelines for state-authorized textbooks, the ministry said it will allow both expressions to be used.
The new textbook will go into use next year along with several state-authorized textbooks that are currently in the making. Schools will be given the freedom to choose among the different versions.