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Defense ministry requests revision of history textbooks

Aug. 23, 2011 - 19:36 By
The Defense Ministry has requested that the Education Ministry revise the criteria for high-school modern Korean history textbooks to strengthen students’ security awareness, officials said Tuesday.

In a formal request to the Education Ministry on Aug. 12, it expressed concern that some current textbooks did not properly explain the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea and security threats North Korea has posed to the South.

“History education is schools’ responsibility. Before people join the military (for their mandatory service), they should have a proper understanding of national security,” Major Gen. Shin Won-sik, senior policy planning official at the ministry, told reporters.

“For mental education in the military, we are now working on publishing a Korean history book for our soldiers. The book will focus on modern history and the content regarding North Korea.”

In the request, which was also sent to the National Institute of Korean History, the ministry said, “There are as many as four out of the six textbooks that do not describe the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea. Some criticize (former) South Korean governments for being dictatorial while glamorizing the North Korean regime.”

“They also do not contain major incidents North Korea has carried out since the (1950-53) Korean War to threaten our national security.”

The ministry also added that the textbooks’ description of Korea’s modern history was one of the key factors to have weakened students’ security awareness.

“The textbooks have caused confusion among young students in their view of South Korea, which they should defend, and North Korea, which they should fight against. This has weakened the willpower of our troops and undermined public confidence in the military,” the ministry said in the request.

The ministry also made a set of suggestions. One of them is that the historical legitimacy of South Korea should be explained through an account of the nation’s founding and development.

It also suggested that the textbooks explain that the “failed” North has threatened the peace and security of South Korea through unrelenting provocations. It also called for an appropriate evaluation of the military in terms of its contributions to national security and development.

By Song Sang-ho (