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'Free democracy' to replace 'democracy' in new school textbooks

All News 10:14 November 10, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- The term "free democracy" will return to secondary school textbooks beginning in 2025 to define South Korea's national identity, five years after it was deleted during the previous administrative.

According to the education ministry's administrative notice disclosed Wednesday, "free democracy" and "free democratic basic order" will replace "democracy" in describing the national identity and some historical events in middle and high school textbooks to be used from 2025.

The preceding Moon Jae-in administration eliminated "free" from "democracy" in secondary school textbooks used from 2020 following a partial revision of the national school curriculum implemented in 2018.

This file photo shows history textbooks for secondary schools. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows history textbooks for secondary schools. (Yonhap)

Whether to put "free" before the term "democracy" in history textbooks has been a heated ideological debate.

Conservative scholars have argued "free" should be included in textbook historical descriptions, saying the current Constitution last revised in 1987 mentions "free democratic basic order."

But liberal scholars have emphasized "democracy" is a more neutral expression, and "free democracy" was virtually equated with "anti-North Korea" and "eradication of communism" during the military dictatorships of the past.

In another controversial revision, the 1950-53 Korean War will be additionally described as "the Korean War that started with (North Korea's) invasion of South Korea" in the new textbooks, the ministry said.

The ministry also said it will revise the terms "sexual minorities, disabled people and foreign immigrants" to "minorities who are discriminated against based on gender, age, race, nationality, disability and other factors," adding that sexual minorities, for instance, could cause confusion among youths regarding their sexual identity.

Following the tragic crowd crush in Seoul, the ministry said it will reinforce public safety-related education in schools through books and field activities.


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