November 04, 2015 11:15
The government on Tuesday officially announced its decision to replace privately published middle and high school history textbooks with official ones in 2017.
The plan has come in for widespread derision, but Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn told reporters, "It is realistically impossible to author a correct history textbook under the current system. It is the government’s conclusion that the privately-authored system has failed."
The government accuses the current textbooks of leftwing bias, but critics fear that the current administration will only substitute a rightwing bias instead.
Hwang said the production process of the current textbooks is "controlled" by left-leaning historians, so private publication can only create textbooks that are favorable to leftists and North Korea.
"The number of [different available] textbooks is merely a figure," he said. "In reality, there is just one biased textbook without diversity."
Although many academics from top universities have already said they will boycott the project, the government says some 30 historians are on side and will do the job. They include Seoul National University professor emeritus Choi Mong-lyong and Shin Young-shik, a professor emeritus at Ewha Womans University.
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said the government's plan is reminiscent of a dictatorship and vowed to boycott all National Assembly sessions.
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