Gwangju uprising of 1980, Jeju 4.3 incident, ‘comfort women’ included in textbook guidelines

The 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju, the bloody 1948-1954 suppression of a civilian uprising on Jeju Island, and Japan’s wartime sexual slavery have been included in the latest textbook guidelines, the education ministry said Friday.

The new guidelines, which will serve as a key reference for writers of elementary, middle and high school textbooks, have been finalized by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation and other state think tanks, the ministry said.

In the case of history textbooks, the guidelines specifically demanded that the May 18 Democratization Movement, the Jeju April 3 incident and the issue of Korean women sexually enslaved by the Japanese military, who are euphemistically called “comfort women,” be mentioned to help improve the textbook quality.

The announcement came after the ministry said last month that descriptions of the May 18 uprising will be omitted in the new writing guidelines for history textbooks.

On May 18, 1980, the military cracked down on Gwangju demonstrators protesting against then President Chun Doo-hwan, who had taken power in a military coup a year earlier. The harsh quelling of the uprising left more than 200 dead and 1,800 others wounded.

The Jeju April 3 Incident occurred on April 3, 1948, when Jeju islanders began protesting against U.S. military-led rule following Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule. The then government distorted the uprising as a communist riot and massacred an estimated up to 30,000 civilians in armed crackdowns over the subsequent years.

Historians say that around 200,000 Asian “comfort women,” mostly Koreans, were forcibly sent to front-line brothels to provide sex services for Japanese soldiers.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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