[EDITORIALS]Skip current historyThe Ministry of Education and Human Resources is making a fuss over modern Korean history textbooks that evaluate the Kim Young-sam administration as "a corrupt government" and Kim Dae-jung's administration as "a reformist government." Since the controversy arose after the textbooks passed the ministry's deliberation, the ministry decided to issue a direct order to amend the controversial contents. It is not unusual for a textbook to evaluate an incumbent government.
Four modern Korean history books have passed deliberation. They are designated as textbooks for the main elective courses that will be included in the new curriculum next year. While current history textbooks include short descriptions on the current and previous administrations, the books in question attempt to evaluate the merits and demerits of the current and previous governments. For example, Kim Young-sam's administration is described as "a corrupt regime" tainted with "power abuse and corruption scandals" and "social insecurity" caused by frequent large accidents. Meanwhile, Kim Dae-jung's government is described as "a reformist administration" that has overcome the economic crisis of 1997-1998, implemented democratic reforms and held the historic South-North summit meeting. It notes Kim Dae-jung as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
School textbooks should set common educational goals of the nation and provide students with an unbiased standard for evaluating history. If textbooks are politically biased, the historical view of the young will be blurred.
It is hasty and belies common sense for the texts to make a historical evaluation of the current administration. Reform measures taken by Kim Dae-jung's government are losing luster because of corruption involving President Kim's family members and close aides. And the inter-Korean dialogue is still elusive.
Including an evaluation of an incumbent government in a textbook leads to mistakes. If the Education Ministry takes action to correct the error, it should give clear orders to delete all evaluations and historical descriptions of the current government from the textbooks.