Politician’s poems allowed in texts

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Politician’s poems allowed in texts

A government body in charge of inspecting school textbooks withdrew its decision Tuesday to remove works by a poet-turned-politician after facing harsh criticism from politicians and writers.

The state-run Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation said it made the decision to strike poems by Do Jong-hwan in the name of political neutrality and to comply with regulations prohibiting work by incumbent politicians from appearing in textbooks.

Do became a proportional representative for the Democratic United Party after the April legislative election.

But writers protested, saying that it is nonsense to argue that Do’s pieces are inappropriate simply because he is now a politician. They also pointed out that writings by former politicians have been readily approved by the group.

“During our discussions, some inspectors raised concerns that Do’s poems could be used as a tool for election campaign in the future if they were included in school textbooks now,” said Park Nam-hwa, an official of the institute. “So we asked the National Election Commission if including those poems in the textbooks would violate the Public Official Election Act, but the commission answered that it would not.”

The 58-year-old poet was once a middle school teacher and has written many pieces of lyric poetry. Those included by the private publishers in proposed textbooks were all written before Do became a proportional representative.

The Writers Association of Korea, which took a vocal stand in opposing the decision, said yesterday in a statement that it welcomed the reversal.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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