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Textbook review board relents on poetry row

Educational authorities on Tuesday dropped a recommendation to remove the literary works of a poet-turned-politician from textbooks, bowing to a strong public backlash.

The state-run Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation said it was considering withdrawing its recommendation to publishers of middle school textbooks to leave out the poems and essays of Do Jong-hwan in the revised editions.

It was only a day after the panel’s directive, issued late last month, became known to the public and invited mockery and criticism from political, literary and educational circles.

“The National Election Commission offered an official view that it wouldn’t be tantamount to a breach of election laws even if literary works of an incumbent politician appear in textbooks,” the KICE said. The institute had made the recommendation on the grounds that teaching Do’s poetry would harm political neutrality, since the writer is now a politician now.

A renowned poet and recipient of many Korean literary prizes, Do earned a seat in the National Assembly in April’s general elections on the main opposition Democratic United Party’s ticket. He also serves as the spokesperson for one of the party’s presidential contenders, Moon Jae-in.

By Lee Sun-young (
Korea Herald Youtube