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Ministry to announce new guidelines for high school history textbooks in July

The Ministry of Education plans to announce new guidelines for high school history textbooks in about two months, its officials said Wednesday, in what will likely stir another heated debate over some of the politically controversial events.

The ministry released a draft proposal Wednesday made by its affiliated research institute on writing guidelines to be used for middle school and high school students starting 2020.

The draft will be reviewed by a committee made up of government officials, educators, parents and others from private sectors. Its final proposal will then be put up for a public hearing, before the committee reviews it again for the official and final release.


"The final proposal will be announced around early July," a ministry official said.

The entire process heralds yet another fierce ideological debate over major historical events, as the making of school history textbooks has always caused a political fuss in the past.

The way in which history textbooks were published in South Korea, in terms of the portrayals of the events, has been swayed by the political orientation of the ruling government.

Conservative governments have maintained that South Korea is "the only legitimate state on the Korean Peninsula," meaning it does not acknowledge North Korea as a state accepted by the international community.

They have also insisted that the 1950-53 Korean War broke out due to the North's "invasion of the South," while liberal sides do not completely agree with stating it in the textbook as a matter of fact.

The liberal Moon Jae-in government last year scrapped the state-authored history textbooks pushed by the previous conservative Park Geun-hye government. In 2015, Park ordered a rewrite of the history books for high school education under the initiative of what she had called "to correct the left-leaning content" and set the history right.

The revised version led by Park sparked criticism from historians as it distorted some key events, including the 18-year dictatorial rule by her father and former President Park Chung-hee, in a way that it glorifies his reign and leaves out numerous controversial human rights abuses.(Yonhap)
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