Another Korean textbook controversy is happening again:
A conservative high school history textbook is igniting a fresh round of ideological conflicts as it acknowledges Japanese colonial rule’s (1910-1945) contribution to the modernization of Korea.
The New Rights’ Textforum’s textbook focusing on “modernization” and pragmatism rather than ideology or “ethics” has put a twist on historical events. Historians and civic groups are denouncing the new textbook, calling it a “distortion” of history.
The most controversial parts are its evaluation of Japanese colonial rule and several military juntas. It says, “it was the period where Koreans had the time and chance to get the ability to establish a modern state.” [Bae Ji-sook - Korea Times]
The Japanese did bring modernarity to Korea, but I don’t see how that was giving anyone in Korea a chance to establish their own modern state when they were under colonial rule? However, here is a statement I can definitely agree with:
The economics expert said, “these days, textbooks are written by leftists. But we wanted to paint a bigger picture of history,” adding that colonials rule should not be judged in black and white.
The colonial rule was definitely not a black and white issue and was much more complex then people make it out to be. The fairest and most balanced analysis of the colonial period I have read is Hildi Kang’s Under the Black Umbrella which I highly recommend to everyone to read.
Here is what the new textbooks say about former South Korean strongman Park Chung-hee:
Former President Park Chung-hee was also brought to the fore again.
Park walked a thin line between dictator ? taking hundreds of people’s lives and destroying the country’s democratic process ? versus a great leader who paved the road for Korea to become a strong economy.
Though admitting his advance into politics with the use of the military in 1961 was an illegal coup, the book says Park’s regime gave Korea the chance to strengthen its national defense, and development in the chemicals industry. However, it does not mention Park’s dark side? suppressing protests, which led to hundreds of people’s deaths.
Park Chung-hee did many good things for the nation but they shouldn’t be used as a excuse not to mention the indisputable bad things he has done. The whitewashing of history by the Korean right makes them no better then the Korean leftists who were doing the same thing under former president Roh Moo-hyun.
Is it any wonder why Korean students fail national history tests?