The Korea Herald


Gov't reveals guidelines for controversial state-authored history textbooks

By 김윤미

Published : Nov. 25, 2016 - 21:01

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The South Korean Ministry of Education has officially revealed its guidelines for controversial state-authored history textbooks on Friday, which touch on some of the most sensitive disputes in the country's modern history.

The guideline compilation has drawn attention from the public, as it serves as a preview of the preliminary version of the government-written history textbook set to be revealed on Monday.

The Education ministry said the ruling principle of the textbooks must "reflect the latest academic theories in order to describe historical facts without errors and keep impartiality."

Regarding Korean Liberation Day on Aug. 15, 1945, the ministry said the textbooks will describe the day as "the day of the foundation of the Republic of Korea." This has been one of the most fiercely disputed parts of the state-authored textbooks, as many historians have claimed that the day should be called "the establishment of the government of the ROK" instead based on the reasoning that the country already existed in the form of the provisional government in Shanghai before the liberation day. The provisional government fought for Korean liberation against imperial Japan.

Consequently, the dispute ultimately intensified over the question of who to credit as the true founder of the ROK, the provisional government or the first South Korean President Rhee Syng-man.

The history textbooks for high schools will present the development of the foundation of the ROK in the aftermath of Korean Liberation Day.

The state-authored textbooks will also detail the process of the state-led economic development plans and the resulting economic development. In the latter part, the textbooks will touch on the country's rise to become a global economic power in the present day.

The Education Ministry said it stressed the exclusion of subjective evaluations by the authors in order to secure impartiality. The description of the current Park Geun-hye administration will be limited to its key political drives.

The upcoming state-authored history books are planned to replace the current history textbooks that are published by eight private publishing companies and approved by the government for use. Primary schools already use a single set of state-authored history textbooks.

The compilation of state-authored history textbooks has ignited nationwide protests from opponents who say it could lead to the glorification of former dictators of the country, including late President Park Chung-hee, the father of President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)