The Ministry of Education said on Monday it will allow the usage of both “free democracy” and “democracy” in textbooks, in response to controversy that sparked after the announcement on June 21 to change the definition of the national and political system to simply “democracy” in the new guidance for secondary school history textbooks.
Domestic history textbooks have used both “free democracy” and “democracy” as terms to define the nation’s political identity, but in order to avoid mistaken interpretation or bias, the government had announced the move to use just “democracy.”
However, the announcement stirred debate where conservatives thought just “democracy” would create confusion, as it could refer to “social democracy” or “free democracy.” Liberals contended that “democracy” was more neutral.
The ministry also decided to not mention that South Korea is “the only legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula,” which would imply that it does not acknowledge North Korea as a state accepted by the international community. Currently, textbook guidelines says that the South Korean government is the sole legitimate government of the full peninsula authorized by the United Nations.
The revised guidelines also include the change of 1948 as the founding year of Korea to the founding year of the Korean government. The ministry explained that the change is meant to recognize the legitimacy of the provisional Korean government set up in 1919 during Japan’s colonial rule of 1910-45.
By Chyung Eun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org