Park vows to fight distorted history education of teenage students

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye lamented strongly about the history education of teenage students Monday, expressing shock over a recent survey that showed a majority of high school students believe the Korean War was started by South Korea's invasion of the North.

Last week, a local newspaper reported that 69 percent of high school students characterized the 1950-53 war as "bukchim" or "a northward invasion," though it is an indisputable fact that tank-led communist troops surged into the South in massive numbers starting the conflict.

It is unclear, however, how many of the students genuinely believe that the South initiated the war due to a confusion over definitions. The terms, "bukchim" or "namchim," could be confusing to some students possibly having mistaken "bukchim" as meaning that the war was started by the North.

On Monday, Park took the survey as only one example of many of how distorted history is being taught in high schools and called for this to be remedied.

"Not only this time, but there have been surveys every year that there are many students who are not aware of whether the June 25 (Korean War) is 'namchim' or 'bukchim,'" Park said during a weekly meeting of senior secretaries. "History is the spirit of our people and I think this is a serious problem."

Park laid some of the blame on the teachers, saying that they may have their own views on history, but they should never attempt to distort the truth. Conservatives in South Korea have long accused members of the liberal teachers' union of being pro-Pyongyang sympathizers.

Distorting history "should never happen because it shakes the basic values and patriotism that growing students should have and distorts the sacrifices of those who gave up their lives for the sake of the country," Park said. "This is a problem that we can never overlook and the new government will make sure to fix it."

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