By: Do Je-hae

Rep. Moon Jae-in, chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), vowed Wednesday to start a nationwide campaign against the government’s bid to reintroduce state history textbooks.

He said his party is also considering all possible legal measures, including filing a petition with the Constitutional Court to block the move.

“I solemnly ask people to join our movement to safeguard democracy and punish an arrogant government,” Moon said at a press conference at the National Assembly. “The movement will encompass politicians, scholars and activists who will form a strong united front against the ruling camp.”

His call came as the opposition party continued to boycott Assembly sessions for the second straight day to protest the textbook plan.

The party said it will launch a coalition with civic groups and academia at the Kim Goo Museum and Library today.

It also plans to file a court injunction to nullify the government’s decision to publish the textbooks starting in the 2017 school year.

“We will make use of all available legal and institutional measures to stop the state textbooks,” Moon said. “The Constitutional Court ruled in 1992 that state-authored history textbooks breached the Constitution. We will consider legal measures, including a constitutional appeal. We will also enact a bill to ban any administration from coercing a uniform history education.”

Moon stressed that the government’s state textbook announcement was null and void as it failed to follow proper administrative procedures and ignored public opinion. The government made the announcement two days prior to the end of the obligatory 20-day period for collecting public opinion. “The government did not listen to the people’s views,” Moon said.

During a 20-day period to canvass public opinion, 321,075 people submitted written petitions against the plan to the education ministry, while 152,805 people supported it. An additional 131,384 petitioned online against the policy.

Moon pointed out that there was not enough time for a proper history textbook to be written. “It usually takes three to four years to publish history textbooks for secondary schools,” he said. “The textbooks will be rushed and will be full of errors.”

Moon’s address came a day after Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn and Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea confirmed the publication of the state-authored textbooks Tuesday.

The government’s announcement was met with increasing public discontent toward the policy. After the plan was confirmed Tuesday, an Internet media survey showed that 59.7 percent of respondents said the government was wrong, while 34.4 percent supported it.

In a press conference after Moon’s address, ruling Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Won Yoo-chul urged the NPAD’s cooperation so that a plenary session scheduled for today can take place as planned. “The National Assembly should take care of issues related to the people’s livelihoods and entrust the textbooks to historians,” Won said.

SOURCE: THE KOREA TIMES