36 authors to write state-issued textbooks

By: Chung Ah-young

Two emeritus professors of history will serve as lead authors of state-compiled history textbooks which will be used at secondary schools starting 2017.

The two are Choi Mong-ryong of Seoul National University and Shin Hyung-sik from Ewha Womans University.

Kim Jung-bae, president of the National Institute of Korean History (NIKH), Wednesday announced the follow-up plan to organize a team of writers and develop content, after the Ministry of Education’s official notice for the new schoolbook policy the previous day.

He said that the team will consist of 36 writers headed by six lead authors including Choi and Shin. Choi will lead the writing on Korean archeology while Shin will take charge on ancient Korean history.

However, other head writers for the Goryeo, Joseon and contemporary/modern eras have not been finalized, he said.

“Lead writers will include top-class scholars in their respective fields. Like Shin, the scholars renowned for high academic achievements such as research and theses will be selected,” Kim said at a press conference in Seoul.

Shin, who took part in the conference, said that the current history textbooks have various problems. “I have decided to join in the writing to make the history books based on clearer and more accurate facts, which can easily appeal to people,” Shin said.

The institute plans to finish organizing the 36-member team on Nov. 20 after selecting the writers through an open recruitment through next Monday on the NIKH website. If necessary, additional scholars will be selected, it said.

“We plan to release the list of writers as soon as possible, but if we think the release will disturb their writing, we won’t make it public until the textbook writing will be done. We will discuss it after consulting with writers,” Chin Jae-gwan, NIKH director for the history compilation division, said.

Also, history teachers will participate as advisers and write some parts if necessary, as they know well the order of the contents for better teaching.

The writing will be completed by November of next year. Afterward, a review team consisting of some 20 experts specializing in each historical era will examine the content. Also, other historical agencies will edit the content, including the terms before publishing the final version.

The final version will be distributed to middle and high schools nationwide from March of 2017.

“We will make a right textbook based on the constitutional spirit and objective facts,” Kim said.

Kim said that they will strengthen screening on each process of writing, reviewing and editing, and make easy and fun textbooks.

Currently, schools select from history textbooks written by eight private publishers which were approved by the government. The government has pushed ahead with the plan to adopt the single state-authored textbooks, suggesting the current ones are too left-leaning with pro-North Korean descriptions.


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