Back To Top

Resistance to state textbook spreads overseas

Some 154 professors and lecturers specializing in Korean history at universities around the world on Sunday released a joint statement opposing South Korea’s move to reinstate government-authored textbooks for secondary education.

The statement said that history textbooks in a democratic nation must respect various views and analyses, and be based on free discussion and research of professional historians.

Opposition lawmakers including New Politics Alliance for Democracy chairman Rep. Moon Jae-in (center) browse through Korean history textbooks displayed at an exhibition opened at Bosingak park in downtown Seoul as part of the rallies to oppose state-authored textbook on Sunday. Yonhap
Opposition lawmakers including New Politics Alliance for Democracy chairman Rep. Moon Jae-in (center) browse through Korean history textbooks displayed at an exhibition opened at Bosingak park in downtown Seoul as part of the rallies to oppose state-authored textbook on Sunday. Yonhap


They further said that the reinstatement of state-authored history textbook by the Seoul government was in line with its policies that have oppressed opportunities for free speech and liberty among the scholastic community for the past several years.

The statement was signed by such renowned professors as Bruce Cummings of the University of Chicago and Don Baker of the University of British Columbia. Also joining were John Treat of Yale University, Ross King of University of British Columbia, Yoon Seung-joo of Carleton College, Kim Sun-joo Kim of Harvard University and Remco Breuker of Leiden University.

Participants signed in from across the globe including the U.S., Singapore, Australia, the U.K., Japan, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Spain, Israel, Romania, Russia and Norway.

Their statement added that history did not entail precision as science does and that it is based on diverse insight of historians and that a single interpretation of history cannot make for good history.

They warned the state history textbook would negatively affect Korea’s international reputation as a democratic society and weaken Korea’s position in fighting against Japan’s historical revisionism. 

Ruling Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung (center) walk along with other participants with a banner promoting state-authored textbook at a presidential sports event gathering those originating from North Korean provinces and North Korean defectors at Mokdong Stadium in western Seoul, Sunday. Yonhap
Ruling Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung (center) walk along with other participants with a banner promoting state-authored textbook at a presidential sports event gathering those originating from North Korean provinces and North Korean defectors at Mokdong Stadium in western Seoul, Sunday. Yonhap


The discussion on the statement reportedly began on Oct. 17, with signatures collected from Oct. 21.

“It was not started by one person per se, but began as we started discussing the matter that we deemed was a serious problem via emails,” professor Nam Hwa-sook of the University of Washington was quoted as telling the Hankyoreh newspaper.

From news reports

MOST POPULAR
LATEST NEWS
Korea Herald daum
subscribe