United States Slams South Korea Over History in Official Textbooks
David Lee, April 15, 2016, 8:08 a.m.
The U.S. State Department in an annual human rights report Wednesday slammed Seoul's plan to force government-authored history textbooks on schools."A government plan to end middle and high schools' right to choose Korean history textbook raised concerns about academic freedom," the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices note. "This would end the right of schools, since 2010, to choose from a range of textbooks approved by the ministry."
The government here claims official textbooks are needed because those currently available display intolerable leftwing bias, but it has failed to convince critics that it will not replace it with rightwing bias. Other human rights concerns in Korea are "government interpretation of the National Security Law, libel laws, and other laws to limit freedom of speech and expression... and the continued jailing of conscientious objectors to military service," it says.
The criticism comes after a failed attempt by prosecutors to imprison a Japanese reporter for allegedly libeling President Park Geun-hye.The report mentions endemic bullying and hazing in military barracks. It also finds fault with bureaucratic corruption and discrimination against defectors from North Korea, LGBTI persons, HIV/AIDS patients and foreigners.