Distorting history

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Distorting history

The Education Ministry’s latest video aimed to celebrate the republic’s 60th anniversary make us wonder if that body is really qualified to teach the nation’s history. Concern is rising that the videos’ politically biased messages distort the nation’s modern history for public school students. Titled “History of Miracles,” most of the clips promote the major accomplishments of past administrations. Meanwhile, it bypasses the rigged elections made possible under former presidents Syngman Rhee and Park Chung Hee.

What’s worse, the renovation of Cheonggye Stream, led by President Lee Myung-bak during his tenure as Seoul mayor, was one of the video’s main features. The image of the renovated Cheonggye Stream is even featured on the cover of the DVD.

Meanwhile, the country’s democratization, a vital part of its modern history, is nowhere to be seen. The May 18 Democratization Movement in Gwangju in 1980, the nationwide popular uprising in June 1987 and the first inter-Korean presidential summit in 2000 - a cornerstone event in inter-Korean relations - were all omitted in the video.

History should never be skewed by ideology, no matter what.

The video aids distributed by the Education Ministry have the potential to teach biased ideas and concepts about modern history by sugarcoating major events and bypassing past wrongdoings. The latest development makes us wonder whether the Education Ministry has an ulterior motive - to join growing efforts to “correct” history textbook changes made under liberal administrations, which many conservative groups say support the views of left-wing academics. Whether this is true or not, the ministry’s short-sightedness is appalling.

An education authority that is unaware of the importance of objectivity and impartiality in teaching materials should not exist at all.

The Education Ministry said it has no plans to remove the DVDs from schools or re-edit them as they simply used images from KBS or KTV television broadcasts. The ministry also said the segment that said the April 19 revolution in 1960 was a “demonstration” is only footage from a news broadcast at that time. But such a tepid response will not quell the growing public fury. The ministry’s actions, suspected of favoring right-wing academics and activists, are a distortion of historic truth. The ministry should remove all disputed DVDs from schools. Its recent actions only weaken the legitimacy of efforts to correct textbooks that currently lean to the left.

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