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Authors vow to revise controversial history textbook

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- Authors of a controversial history textbook expressed their will Tuesday to revise content accused of ideological bias, but countered claims that it glorifies Japanese colonialism and South Korea's former dictatorships.

The history textbook, authored by conservative historians, passed an education ministry screening in May along with seven other textbooks for use at high schools starting the 2014 academic year.

However, opposition lawmakers, liberal historians and civic activists have claimed that it contains many factual errors and glorifies pro-Japanese collaboration and the dictatorships of South Korea's military-led regimes. Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.

"We will fully carry out the education ministry's instructions of revision ... We will also humbly accept 298 (controversial) points cited by history organizations," said Lee Myung-hee, a professor at Kongju National University in central South Korea and the book's main author, during a press conference in Seoul.

Following the outbreak of the controversy, Education Minister Seo Nam-soo said the ministry will have the text revised or complemented with additional information, rather than immediately withdrawing its endorsement of the book just as opponents have called for.

"The revision will cover not only facts but also historical interpretations, through which we will make a balanced, widely accepted textbook that will help our children bear a correct view of the nation," the author added.

The press conference came a day after its publisher, Kyohak Publishing Co., vowed not to abandon the publication of the textbook and instead to revise it.

The publisher, under threats of a boycott of all of its school textbooks and other products following the ideology dispute, had seriously considered relinquishing its publication rights, but changed its course as the authors strongly demanded that the project be pursued.

However, Kwon Hee-young, another author of the textbook, dismissed the controversy over their alleged attempts to glorify pro-Japanese collaboration, saying that many negative criticisms about the book are unfounded.

"Many other textbooks are written on the basis of pro-North Korean, pro-communist, anti-American and anti-Japanese notions. The ongoing criticism leveled at our textbook is unfair," Kwon added.

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