Poet-turned-politician's work to remain in textbooks
Korea's national election panel has found no problem with school textbooks containing literary works by politicians, the institute responsible for curriculum said Tuesday, paving the way for the poems and essays of an opposition lawmaker to remain in such texts.
Controversy over the matter erupted Monday after the state-run Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) recommended that publishers of middle school textbooks remove poems and essays written by Rep. Do Jong-hwan of the Democratic United Party (DUP) from their revised editions for next year.
Since 1984 when he made his literary debut, Do has been widely recognized for works depicting the hardships of people living on the divided peninsula, and has won many prizes.
The 57-year-old became a lawmaker during the parliamentary elections in April as a proportional representative candidate, and currently serves as a spokesman for DUP presidential hopeful Moon Jae-in.
Seven works by Do -- five poems and two essays -- appear in eight out of 16 of the country's Korean language and literature textbooks for middle school students.
"Simply publishing the works of a specific politician cannot be seen as a violation of the public official election law. That is the answer we got from the National Election Commission," the institute said in a statement.
"Respecting that opinion, we will discuss the matter again to decide our final principles."
Previously, the KICE asked the publishers to remove Do's works, citing political neutrality in schools. It also asked them to revise parts of the textbooks concerning Jasmine Lee, the Philippine-born naturalized Korean citizen who became a ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker.
Following fierce protests from Rep. Do, the association of poets and both ruling and opposition parties, however, the institute took a step back late Monday, saying it will review its principles in accordance with the interpretation by the election comssion.
The final endorsement of the new textbooks is scheduled for August. (Yonhap)