South Korea gov’t denies ‘secret’ task force to deal with history textbook row

(From Yonhap)

The Ministry of Education refuted the opposition party’s accusation Monday that it has set up a “secret” task force to push forward with a single history textbook for secondary students.

The controversy is tied to a government plan to mandate the use of a single state-approved history textbook in schools. The move is stirring a backlash among Korean academics in a country where depictions of the past can be a partisan and polarizing issue.

On Sunday, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) argued that the ministry had set up the special task force to deal with controversies surrounding the government’s decision to author a single set of books in the 2017 school year to address what it calls predominantly left-leaning content in the current books.

“It is totally wrong to mention a secret organization when the Ministry of Education has set up an organization within the boundaries of the public budget,” said a ministry official, adding that it is a customary to temporarily set up such a team.

NPAD legislators, however, argued that it will demand a relevant parliamentary standing committee to look into suspicions surrounding the task force.

The NPAD further claims that some 20 officials were on the team to secretly monitor media, as well as civic groups, teachers and parents.

On Monday, some NPAD lawmakers visited the team’s office in central Seoul, demanding that they open the door.

textbookrowThe ruling Saenuri Party, meanwhile, demanded the government take stern and legal measures against the opposition lawmakers over the alleged illegal act.

“The party officially demanded Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea take legal actions against the obstruction of business (by NPAD lawmakers),” said Rep. Cho Won-jin.

Related story: Seoul’s plan to control history textbooks sparks academic fury

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