Court upholds order on textbooks

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Court upholds order on textbooks

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People browse through textbooks yesterday at Kyobo Bookstore. With the Seoul Administrative Court upholding the ministry’s order, the process to choose textbooks for the next academic year will proceed as scheduled. [NEWSIS]

A local court yesterday rejected a request by a group of textbook authors for an injunction against a revision order by the Ministry of Education, effectively ending months of controversy surrounding ideological divides in history textbooks.

The Seoul Administrative Court yesterday turned down the injunction request by 12 authors from six publishers, who asked that the court halt the ministry’s order to revise specific content in their textbooks. While the court admitted that the ministry’s revision orders put the authors at a disadvantage, it added that it saw no urgent need to issue the injunction. If the injunction had been granted, it would have had a broad-reaching effect on public well-being, the court said.

However, the authors still have a final chance to challenge the ministry’s order in court, it said, further adding that yesterday’s ruling only concerned the injunction request.

The authors’ lawsuit to repeal the ministry’s order by challenging its legitimacy will be deliberated more thoroughly in a future trial. The textbook controversy started in September when the ministry announced its plan to order revisions for eight history books that had already passed the initial certification process. The textbooks, screened by the state-run National Institute of Korean History, had all received approval in August.

Following a review, the ministry recommended that the publishers make certain changes, and the publishers complied with most of them.

In November, the ministry issued an ultimatum to seven out of the eight high school history textbook publishers to make the final 41 changes before the start of the next academic year.

Kyohak Publishing Company, criticized for its conservative content, and six other left-leaning publishers - Kumsung Publishing; Doosan Dong-A Printing; MiraeN; Visang Education; Jihaksa Publishing and Chunjae Education - all received the orders. Liber School was the only publisher that did not receive a correction order.

Challenging the decision, authors from the six publishers - excluding Kyohak - asked the administrative court earlier this month to grant an injunction against the ministry’s order. They argued that the revision order forced them to reflect a particular historical stance and requested that the court repeal the ministry’s decision.

Meanwhile, separate from the suit, the seven publishers that received revision orders submitted their modification plans to the ministry on Dec. 3; and the ministry confirmed on Dec. 10 that the changes for all seven books were satisfactory.

Yesterday marked the deadline for schools to select one of the eight textbooks. With the court upholding the ministry’s order, the process to choose textbooks for the next academic year will proceed as scheduled.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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