12 textbook authors file injunction

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12 textbook authors file injunction

Authors of six textbook publishers filed a suit with the Seoul Administrative Court yesterday and demanded that the Ministry of Education repeal an order to revise high school history textbooks.

The Ministry of Education on Nov. 29 ordered seven high school history textbook publishers – Kyohak and six other left-leaning Kumsung Publishing; Doosan Dong-A Printing; MiraeN; Visang Education; Jihaksa Publishing and Chunjae Education – to make 41 revisions to their books before the start of the next academic year. Liber School was the only publisher that received no correction order and the ministry gave it an approval on the same day.

The order came following complaints that the textbooks contained politically skewed material and had factual errors. Publishers who refused to reflect the changes would be prevented from issuing their textbooks.

In response, 12 authors from those publishers - excluding Liber School - filed an injunction at the administrative court yesterday morning.

The authors asserted that the Education Ministry’s order went beyond the boundaries of simple revisions and had requested changes in actual content. They further claimed that there were no legal grounds for the revision order and that the content review period was too short.

On Oct. 21, the ministry recommended that the publishers of all eight government-approved Korean history textbooks make a total of 829 revisions and modify any factual errors by November. Kyohak was asked to make the most changes, at 251.

While most of the revisions were reflected in the textbooks, the publishers, excluding Kyohak, refused to make 41 changes based on their own revision plans on topics including the massacre of innocent civilians during the 1950-53 Korean War, Japanese territorial claims and North Korean human rights issues. The authors responded that they would come up with their own plans to make corrections and modifications to the books.

The seven publishers, however, submitted revision plans to the Education Ministry as requested by the deadline on Tuesday without the authors’ consent.

“The revision plan submitted to the Education Ministry by the publishers was arbitrarily drawn up without the consent of the authors,” said Ju Jin-oh, a history professor at Sangmyung University and the head of an association of history book authors. “Of course, it is understandable that they were unable to withstand the pressure ... but publishing a book without an author does not make sense.”

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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