Thursday, October 10, 2019

Battles over curriculum and inclusion in Korea's schools, 1969-1970

In the past few weeks I've had two articles appear in the Korea Times. The first was "Fighting segregation in Seoul's schools in 1969," about efforts by SMOE and the Ministry of Education to integrate children of people who had overcome Hansen's Disease, or leprosy.

The second, "Korea's battle over the 'domineering use of Chinese characters' in 1970," was written with Hangeul Day in mind. The debate over whether or not to stop teaching Hanja as part of the Korean language curriculum went back to 1945, but I chose to focus on the debates that arose in years around when it was phased out in 1970. One thing I failed to note, which was helpfully pointed out to me by an American who has lived here for decades, was that Hangeul Day had been a public holiday from 1945 to 1991. Becoming a holiday in 2013 was not a new rise in status, but a return to its former status.