Pledge of allegiance is revised yet still resisted

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Pledge of allegiance is revised yet still resisted

The government unveiled a revised version of the pledge of allegiance last week, which it said sounds less compulsory, and would encourage people to voluntarily express their loyalty to the country.
However, some human rights groups oppose not just the revision but the pledge itself, which they say forces the people to be subservient to the country. They plan to hold rallies against it this week.
Under a presidential decree dating to 1972, Koreans are required to recite the pledge of allegiance at public gatherings and at the start of each week of classes from elementary through high school: “I pledge, in front of proud Taegeukgi [Korea’s national flag], allegiance to my mother country, to devote my body and soul to the eternal glory of the country and the people.”
As announced on Friday by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs the new version is: “I pledge, in front of proud Taegeukgi, allegiance to the Republic of Korea for the eternal glory of the country, liberty and justice.”
The new version of the pledge will take effect on July 27, when a new law codifying procedures for ceremonial displays of affection for the nation, including saluting the flag, is put in force.
“We changed some parts of the pledge of allegiance as they were outdated and sounded a bit oppressive,” said Jung Hyun-kyu, a director at the ministry.
“We inserted ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’ in the new version, as they are the priority values we say we are pursuing in the Constitution. ‘The Republic of Korea’ also sounds less oppressive than ‘mother country.’”
Human rights groups have long been opposed to saluting the flag and the pledge, claiming the practices are a remnant of the military regime.
“It’s just like changing clothes,” said Bae Kyung-nae, of the human rights group Sarangbang, yesterday. “No matter how beautifully the phrases are revised, they still remain in the form of a pledge in which the people are obliged to be submissive to the country.”


By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Writer [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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