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Park notes history textbooks as left-leaning

President Park Geun-hye has noted that the current history textbooks are mostly authored by left-wing historians, renewing her calls for standardized books for secondary school students. 

Park made such remarks at a meeting with Rep. Kim Moo-sung, head of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Rep. Moon Jae-in, leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, on Thursday.

"Some of the textbooks children are learning from these days state that South Korea shouldn't have been born, and call North Korea a legitimate country," Park said. "We should not teach students defeatism. Descriptions make students feel shame for being born in the Republic of Korea."

Kim Moo-sung also said earlier this month that most of the current textbooks state that the establishment of the South Korean government was in 1948.

Conservative and liberal scholars have waged an intense debate on controversial modern history, including important incidents such as the 1950-53 Korean War and the bloody uprising on the southern island of Jeju on April 3, 1948.

Liberals believe that the establishment of the government should be recorded as April 11, 1919, when the Korean government in exile was launched under Japanese colonial rule.

The Ministry of Education said earlier this month that history textbooks for middle and high school students will be authored by the government starting in the 2017 school year to address what the government calls predominantly left-leaning content in the current books.

History textbooks for secondary schools are currently published by eight private publishing companies pending government approval while primary schools have a single set of state-authored history textbooks.

Park also said the current writers describe the 1950-53 Korean War in a left-leaning way.

"In some textbooks, the Korean War is described as the result of both sides (Koreas)," Park said,

In 2013, the Ministry of Education ordered publishers of seven out of the eight government-approved Korean history textbooks to make 41 revisions of what it called obscure and imbalanced descriptions of history.

The ministry said textbooks did not mention the killings of civilians by North Korean soldiers while stating that similar killings by South Korean and U.S. troops took place.

Park said it's regrettable that efforts to correct history textbooks have degenerated into a political issue. She accused "80 percent of textbook authors" of having left-wing connections.

Following the meeting, Moon said his perspective of history was very different from that of Park and Kim Moo-sung.

"President Park and Chairman Kim still have the thought that most of our country's textbook writers and historians are left-wing," said Moon, adding that the two perceive history textbook so differently. (Yonhap)