Korea's campaign to change Geography textbooks in the UK

Things Korean seem to please readers of this blog, so I thought I’d share this curious titbit. PR Korea are running a campaign to ask educational publishers to change our geography textbooks to remove what they see as anti-Korean bias.

What’s interesting is that they are trying to do it as a student project. For each publisher, they’ve put a form on their website with pre-written email. The least the student must do is sign it; those with good English can edit or rewrite it. Here’s ours.

Now, how do you feel about this?

  • Is it a valid educational project for the students? After all, it involves practising a foreign language in context, history, citizenship, business studies and using the internet in a very innovative way.
  • Is it cynical political manipulation of young people inappropriate in a modern democracy?
  • Is it an attempt to right an historical wrong?
  • Is it a service to students in this country, potentially helping their knowledge of geography and world cultures?

No Korean student has actually written to me yet – perhaps they are waiting for the Chalkface killer resource on South-East Asia to be published.

If you’re interested, here’s the core of the standard letter.

Dear Chalkface Project
(Textbook publishing company person in charge)

I am a student and a member of VANK living in South Korea.
VANK is a non-governmental organization and also a voluntary organization.
VANK consists of elementary, middle and high school students who provide correct information about Korea to international textbook publishing companies and publishers.

Korea has 5,000 years history, well-matched cultural heritage and has accomplished high-speed economic growth,
but these facts have not been introduced well yet in textbooks and publications all over the world.
Especially, Korea’s developed image was introduced to the world through mass communications,
hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, 2002 FIFA Korea/Japan World Cup very successfully
but Korean information introduced in international textbooks is still insufficient or incorrect.

First of all most Korean information in international textbooks has been delivered to the world through Japan
or China not directly from Korea. Good examples are describing the ‘East Sea’ as the ‘Sea of Japan’, world 13th economic board of trade Korea as a farming country that is underdeveloped,
5,000 years of Korean history as 2,000 years history and describing Korea as the tributary country of Japan and China.

These inaccuracies regarding Korea in international textbooks were reflected from the contents in Japanese textbooks
without any verification, which were delivered to the world by Japanese scholars after Japanese colonial rule
of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

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