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History Education and Reconciliation

Comparative Perspectives on East Asia

Edited By Unsuk Han, Takahiro Kondo, Biao Yang and Falk Pingel

The legacy of crimes committed during the Second World War in East Asia is still a stumbling block for reconciliation and trustful cultural relations between South Korea, China and Japan. The presentation of this issue in history school books is in the focus of a heated public and academic debate. This book written by historians and pedagogues from the three countries offers insight into the construction of historical narratives that are often nation-centered and foster exclusive identity patterns. However, the essays also reveal approaches to a more inclusive regional concept of East Asian history that puts the textbook debate into the wider framework of transitional justice.


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Chang, Sei-yoon: The Current History Education Curriculum and the System of Textbook Authorization in Korea


Chang, Sei-yoon The Current History Education Curriculum and the System of Textbook Authorization in Korea 1. The Recent Controversy over History Textbooks in Korea and the Introduction of East Asian History as a School Subject The ideological controversy in Korea that followed a change in government after ten years recently focussed on history textbooks and the history school curriculum.1 Events in China and Japan contributed to stimulating the debate. Korean historians have developed a heightened interest in the East Asian discourse and history textbooks used in East Asian countries.2 Significant changes are under way, with both the government and historians involved in: – The adoption of a new history curriculum. – The compilation of new history textbooks. – The adoption of East Asian History as a school subject. Such initiatives form part of a wider effort to settle the ongoing conflict over the divergent historical perspectives held by the three Northeast Asian countries.3 A tentative plan for the teaching of East Asian history was introduced by a team led by Professor An, Byungwoo (Hanshin University) in 2006.4 In Febru- 1 In Korea, the Democratic Party ruled from February 1998 to February 2008. Presidents Kim, Dae-jung and Roh, Moo-hyun led the ‘progressive’ Korean governments during this period. The Grand National Party came into power in February 2008 with a new (‘conservative’) government led by President Lee, Myung-bak. 2 E.g. Nakamura, Satoru: Dongasia Yeoksa Gyogwaseoneun Eotteoke Sseuyeo Isseulkka [Studies on history textbooks of East Asia], Seoul: 2005 (translated by the Center for In- formation on...

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