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School entrance ceremony canceled amid protest over state textbooks

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Published : 2017-03-02 13:44
Updated : 2017-03-13 11:14

A group of parents of high school students is set to file a suit Thursday demanding the cancellation of the school's adoption of controversial state-authored history textbooks.

Munmyeong High School in Gyeongsan, 331 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was designated by the government in February as the only school to use the textbooks in the new academic year starting this month.

Students and parents hold up signs at Munmyeong High School in Gyeongsan, 331 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on March 2, 2017, to demand the school cancel its adoption of state-authored history textbooks. (Yonhap)

On the first day of the new school year, some 150 freshmen and parents held a protest at the school auditorium demanding the cancellation of the designation.

Other schools did not apply to use the textbooks amid controversy over the authors' rightist interpretation of events in the nation's modern history.

"The ceremony was canceled, and I don't think we will hold it again," said a school official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Classes on the first day of school were held normally."

Students and parents claim the school authorities broke rules in applying to use the rightist textbooks.

"The head of the school's foundation and the principal unilaterally applied for the school's designation as an experimental school for the state-authored textbooks," a parents' committee said in a statement.

The process was "illegal" because the school's steering committee voted twice on the designation to get the result they wanted, it claimed.

The committee filed an administrative suit with the district court of Daegu, demanding the provincial education office cancel the designation. It also sought an injunction to stop the use of the textbooks while the proceedings are underway.

Following the designation, four incoming students have dropped out or moved to another school, while scores of other students and parents have held rallies at the school almost every day to demand the decision be reversed.

Kim Tae-dong, the school's principal, arrived at the auditorium to attend the ceremony but left moments later.

"I am not considering reversing the decision," he said. "I will keep persuading the students and parents who are opposed to the state-authored history textbooks."

The school's freshmen are expected to receive them next week.

The conservative Park Geun-hye administration introduced the books to correct what it viewed as a left-leaning, pro-North Korea bias in private publishers' textbooks. But liberals slammed the texts for glorifying the military regime of Park's father Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country for 18 years after a coup until he was assassinated in 1979.

The textbooks are to formally go into use next year. (Yonhap)