1st Edition

The Politics of Korean Language Textbooks in the Two Koreas Nationalism, Ideologies and Education

By Dong Bae Lee Copyright 2024
    246 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book investigates the politics embedded in the Korean-language textbooks utilised between 1895 and 2019, within the context of one Korea (pre-colonial and colonial eras), the divided Koreas, and an ethnic Korean group residing in Japan (Chongryon).

    By analysing the inclusions and omissions from Korean-language the author successfully highlights the impact of Korean politics, making clear how rulers have attempted to control their citizens and legitimize their rule by using primary school Korean-language textbooks as a medium for political education and inculcation. It succinctly displays how different visions of ‘ideal citizenship’ have been presented in Korea and traces the resulting shift in views towards neighbouring nations as a result, identifying how different rival countries were demonized at different times. This chapter also shows some consistent omissions, such as the lower classes and marginalized individuals within their respective nations.

    Presenting recommendations for potential improvements of the content of future textbooks this study will be of interest to students of Asian Studies, Post-colonial Studies, Critical Curriculum Studies, Critical Discourse Studies, and Korean Studies.

    1. Introduction  2. Analysis of Korean language textbooks in the pre-colonial era  3. Analysis of textbooks of the colonial period  4. Analysis of the textbooks of the neo-colonial period  5. Textbooks under the dictatorships  6. Textbooks in the 21st century  7. Soviet neo-colonial influence in North Korean language textbooks  8. Textbooks in the era of Kim Jong Il (during the late 1990s and early 2000s)  9. Analysis of Chongryon Korean language textbooks used in Japan  10. Summary and conclusions


    Dong Bae Lee is Korean major convenor at the University of Queensland, Australia. Their research concerns the critical analysis of language (English, Korean and Chinese) textbooks and curriculum, postcolonial drama in Korea, language policy, multiculturalism in the school curriculum 

     ‘This insightful monograph brilliantly uncovers the intricate politics and power dynamics depicted within the Korean-language textbooks of both Koreas. Through a meticulous examination of these educational resources, the author demonstrates how political leaders effectively establish and validate their ruling ideologies. As a result, this book is poised to captivate scholars from a diverse range of regions, including the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, as well as the two Koreas.’

    Changzoo Song, Senior Lecturer in Korean & Asian Studies, University of Auckland


    ‘Dong Bae Lee’s research on Korean language textbooks represents a significant and groundbreaking contribution to our understanding of politics, ideology, and the school textbooks. Using data from two rival countries, it shows unique examples on how political ruling ideologies influence school knowledge, and foster different national identities and nationalism.’

    Lee Soojin, Daegu National University of Education