Court gives gov’t power to edit history textbooks

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Court gives gov’t power to edit history textbooks

A ruling by the Seoul High Court on Tuesday gives the government the power to order changes to school textbooks, which it hasn’t had since the 1980s.

In a civil suit brought by three co-authors of a high school contemporary history textbook published by Kumsung Publishing Co. against Ahn Byong-man, former minister of education, science and technology, the court ruled for the minister, saying the ministry’s demand that the company make changes to a textbook was legal.

The ministry considered the textbook too leftist and too pro-North Korea.

“There is a realistic need for editing even after textbooks are given official approval,” said the court. “In the power given [to the government] to approve textbooks, there also lies the power to edit the material afterwards. The order to change textbook material can be given for writing errors as well as sections that give the wrong idea of the historic reality.”

Textbooks in Korea are not directly vetted by the government. As long as they abide by certain guidelines of the Education Ministry, they can be authorized for publication.

The book in question was published by Kumsung Publishing in 2003. The Education Ministry decided the textbook was too critical of the progress made by South Korea since the Korean War and was overly generous in its descriptions of North Korea. In November 2008, it demanded 29 changes.

Kim Han-jong, a professor at the Korea National University of Education, and two other co-authors of the text sued the minister of education, demanding the ministry retract its order.

Last September, a lower court ruled in favor of the authors, saying the ministry’s demand for changes was “unlawful.”

On Tuesday, the Seoul High Court overruled that court and also said the 29 changes to the book demanded by the ministry were “appropriate.”

An example from the text cited in the ruling read, “If a government was established in South Korea [after liberation from Japan], it was a certainty that a government would be set up in North Korea as a result. Then the South and North were forced to go their own ways.”

“This sort of description could lead to the misunderstanding that the government established in South Korea resulted in the same happening in North Korea, which caused the separation of the Korean Peninsula,” wrote the judges.


By Bae Young-dae, Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“정부, 역사 왜곡 교과서 고칠 권한 있다”

고법, 1심 판결 뒤집어 … 좌편향 논란 금성출판사 근현대사 저자 패소

2008년 ‘좌편향’ 논란을 일으킨 근현대사 교과서에 대한 교육과학기술부의 수정 지시는 적법하다는 고등법원의 판단이 나왔다.

서울고법 행정1부(부장 김창석)는 16일 김한종(53) 한국교원대 교수 등 금성출판사의 근현대사 교과서 공동저자 3명이 교과부 장관을 상대로 낸 수정명령 취소소송에서 1심을 깨고 원고 패소 판결했다.

 재판부는 “교과서 검정 후에도 교과서 내용을 수정할 현실적 필요성이 분명하게 존재한다”며 “검정 권한에는 본질적으로 교과서 내용을 추후에 교육 목적에 적합하게 수정하도록 명할 수 있는 권한도 포함돼 있다”고 밝혔다. 또 “수정 명령은 오기(誤記) 등 명백한 잘못뿐 아니라 역사적 현실에 대해 잘못된 인식을 야기할 수 있는 부분 등에도 할 수 있다”고 덧붙였다.

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