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Textbook Wars!

Pity Kyohak Publishing—due to public pressure, only one school in the country (Cheongsong Girls’ High School in Gyeongsangbuk-do, for those keeping score at home) has adopted its controversial history textbook.

Another school in Jeonju, of all places, dropped the book after initially planning to use it.

Needless to say, not everyone’s happy about this. The Ministry of Culture in particular is upset that many schools seem to be abandoning the book due to “outside pressure,” warning that said pressure “hampers the independence of concerned schools.” Conservatives in general have long looked askance at the campaign against Kyohak’s textbook. I suppose in this day and age academic institutions are the last place to look for ideological diversity.

Still, as the Hankyoreh notes, Korea’s not the only country where right-wing textbooks that whitewash history have experience low adoption rates:

“In Japan, the selection rate for the so-called ‘Fusosha textbook’ was just 0.039% when the controversy erupted over its distorted accounts of history,” said Ha Il-sik, a professor of ancient Korean history at Yonsei University. “In other words, this textbook that whitewashed Japan‘s history of colonialism and painted its invasions of other countries in positive terms had a less than 1% selection rate even in Japan.”

As I’ve said earlier, I haven’t read the Kyohak textbook itself. I’ve read what other people have written about the Kyohak textbook, and while I’m inclined to agree there are some problematic parts, I’m also inclined to say I’d probably agree more with its historical viewpoint than that of its most ardent opponents. But that’s just me.

An interesting byproduct of this has been calls in—sit down for this—the Saenuri Party to bring back state-authored history textbooks:

In a bid to prevent controversy from spreading further, leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party said Wednesday that it was time to consider the reintroduction of a state history textbook.

“If (history) textbooks become a cause for public discord and create unnecessary conflict, it is time to seriously discuss a possible return to state textbooks, at least for future generations,” said ruling party floor leader Choi Kyoung-hwan.

Seoul’s education chief Moon Yong-lin essentially agreed to the proposal.

“If a dispute over a certain textbook intensifies, we cannot but think that we may need a state textbook,” he said.

If you believe that one of the functions of public education is to help build a sense of national identity, I suppose you might not find this such a bad idea. Still, as one newscaster noted recently, few developed countries use state-authored textbooks anymore. The fact that the ruling party lawmaker he was talking to cited Russia, Vietnam and—best of all—North Korea as models to follow (to much online derision) probably says a lot.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • SugarFruit

    The influence of the 좌빨 전교죠 is just huge! Big sigh…

  • SugarFruit

    전교조…( not 전교죠)

  • Aja Aja

    What parts of the Kyohak text books are problematic? Someone please explain this issue to me since I’m confused.

  • SugarFruit

    Part of the textbook is to do with Comfort Women issue.

    The textbook says that some women voluntarily became comfort women. Sure most of the women according to testimony, young women from countries under Japanese Imperial control were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants.

    Every time there is a protest asking Japan for apology, I get red-faced.

    I am a Korean, and I was educated by 전교조 .(most of the Koreans think they are 죄빨, but I believe that China is controlling them to create anti-Japanese sentiments.)

    http://komun.net/zbxe/free/12030 (by Dr 지만원)

    위안부 할머니의 분노
    “우리를 앵벌이 삼아 국제망신 그만시켜라”

    The real victims don’t want to show their face to the public (they just want quiet life and Japanese government apologised too -whether it was a sincere apology or not is another matter – and the real victims were compensated. The protesters you see (and read) are 알바들 who get paid for protesting several hours (or a whole day) by 정대협.

  • redwhitedude

    Why does this have to turn into such a political football?

  • ryunchoosk

    Do you mean the “comfort women” ain’t really what it’s cracked up to be by S. Korea/S. Koreans and thy apologists? Unbelievable! I’ve ALWAYS been able to rely on S. Koreans on everything or local/regional/worldwide history. When will the S. Korean WAR on its OWN history end? Till then please shut-up!

  • setnaffa

    “right-wing textbooks”
    *sigh*

  • redwhitedude

    What? And they aren’t even prostitutes!? What an outrage!?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Thy apologists? You mean like the UN and the US Congress?

    Jesus, thank God your old hagwon boss wasn’t a Jew. I shudder to imagine what you’d be writing on Israel-related blogs then.

  • SugarFruit

    As I said, most of the women were abducted from their homes and also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants, AND there also some were already pros who willingly became “comfort women’ (probably not knowing how cruelly the Japanese would treat them).

    Don’t think I am an apologist for Japan; I am not a 친일파. I won’t forget what Japan did, however enough is enough. Korea has more serious matters it should concentrate at the moment. China is the biggest threat to Korea and most of the fair-minded, level-headed right wing Koreans who know what China is up to (Dr 이춘근, 박경귀, 정규재, 전경웅, 김필재, 조갑제,박경귀, 복거일, 김혁수) emphasise 한미일동맹.

    China, of course, try to create anti-American and anti-Japanese sentiments by controlling 여성부, 전교죠, 시민단체, 정대협, politicians (there are a lot of 프락치 even within 새누리당 that Park Gun Hae is being careful whom she should trust) of and media. 99% of Koreans have no idea what China is up to. Even I initially thought these organizations were just 좌빨단체.

    RElgin, I will gather the facts (quite a lot) and post it here. In the mean time I will just post short replies.

  • KRAHN

    Not all Israelis and supporters of Israel are Jews. Many of Israel’s staunchest supporters believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur.
    Not all Jews support Israel.
    Please don’t equate criticism of Israel with bigotry against Jews.

  • SugarFruit

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/wmroBC2FZ0M

    미운나라 = Japan
    적 = China
    영원한 한국의 우방 (I hope) = USA

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    “Many of Israel’s staunchest supporters believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur.”

    That would have to have been his biggest miracle since In the chronology of Young-Earth Creationists, you’re off by 4,000 years. They think that Adam, not Jesus, co-existed with dinosaurs — dinosaurs having all perished in Noah’s Flood.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    ” since In” –> “since in”

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • KRAHN

    I stand corrected. I thought that the bones of “dinosaurs” that perished in the flood were actually demon bones.

  • RElgin

    True enough. There are enough protestant nutjobs in the US that support Israel since it dovetails nicely with their worldview.
    If I had to make my own version of this MYTH, I would have Jesus Jones carrying an RPG, riding on the back of a dinosaur, with Abraham Lincoln (with axe) and the Baal Shim Tov, wielding an amazing sandwich.

    Of course the sandwich is my embellishment.

  • http://kimchilaw.com/ Kimchi Law Blog

    Speaking of controversial books, Tiger Mom is back. Snubbing Koreans, this time….

    http://kimchilaw.com/2014/01/10/tiger-mom-mormons-superior-koreans-not-so-much/

  • Todd M

    Her next book is called ‘How to Combine Controversial Race Issues with Lazy Intellectualism to Make a Fortune off Suckers’.

  • RElgin

    If you believe that one of the functions of public education is to help build a sense of national identity, I suppose you might not find this such a bad idea. Still, as one newscaster noted recently, few developed countries use state-authored textbooks anymore. The fact that the ruling party lawmaker he was talking to cited Russia, Vietnam and—best of all—North Korea as models to follow (to much online derision) probably says a lot.

    This illustrates the fact that ruling party here is lead by the wrong people who have no concept of education other than as a social tool for political conformity.

    I guess we are lucky not to have political/social myths of Park Chung-hee riding dinosaurs as well or his miraculous birth on Paekdu-san.

  • brier

    If I can add a bit, the educational system does a good job of turning our productive tax payers too. But you are right, it serves the needs of the government, not the aspirations of citizens.

  • yangachibastardo

    Such product is already there, it’s called http://www.salon.com

  • yangachibastardo

    Please don’t equate criticism of Israel with bigotry against Jews

    You mean like this freak ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25668275

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    While I agree with your views that indeed we should be weary of China and that Japan is not our real enemy, I must also point out that the Japan-Korea relations worsened during and because of Park administration much worse than during Roh or Kim’s, (actually it started with LMB visiting Tokdo on his way out)..Kim definitely commanded more respect within Japan if I remember. Park is definitely somebody who is famous for her anti-Japan stance among the normal Japanese as much as Abe is in Korea, so it is quite ironic that in South Korea the contemporary right wingers are actually playing the roles of the staunch anti-Japanese and sucker-uppers to the Chinese.

  • ssamzi

    A funny animation about KTU or 전교조.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4irEo2U81gs