“North Korea, which had leadership composed of those who fought against the Japanese occupation, still strives to liberate the American colony South Korea just as it fought against the Japanese for national liberation, and that’s how they say… The war didn’t begin with a scream on June 25th, 1950. North and South had already had small-scale battles around the 38th parallel, and Rhee Syngman administration had already called for northward unification.”
Those statements come from the “EBS Online Lecture” in “Modern Korean History”. EBS placed the lecture on its website on March 24th, and on June 7th broadcast it on its university entrance exams-focused channel EBS Plus 1. Mr. A, the lecturer, is a popular EBS lecturer who is also a professor at a private university in Seoul.
The Civil Coalition for Fairness in Media (공정언론시민연대) said on the 2nd that “our analysis of the sixth portion of the EBS high school lectures in ‘modern history’ this year found that it was anti-ROK and relatively anti-American, and praised North Korea… this lecture took place not in a private hagwon but on EBS, a public broadcaster, and so the high school students who heard it likely developed anti-ROK sentiments.”
It went on to say that “Mr. A mainly focused on anti-ROK and pro-North ideas” and then introduced examples.
“In North Korea there was land reform under the name democratic reform. This means that water and land were distributed for free to the farmers in North Korea. North Korea still keeps the land distributed, but it’s not true that it would be bad to do it in South Korea. So in South Korea there has only been part of it. That’s about money.”
Mr. A also mentioned certain incidents in modern history, but the organization says he distorted and emphasized repression and atrocities. For example, he said that “the military killed many, many innocent people in Yeosu and Suncheon because they were on lists of communists. They would grab and strip their clothes off and say ‘why are you wearing American underwear?’ or ‘why is your head so small? or ‘are you ready to fight?’ And then they shot them! They shot and killed them. It was outside the law. If they saw someone they didn’t like, they shot them.”
Lee Dong-hyeon, head of policy for the Coalition, said that “we demand that EBS fully investigate the situation and set it right.”
In July of last year a high school teacher, Mr. Jang, said in an online lecture that “when you go into the military you learn to kill, of course. Isn’t that right? You have to defend,” and touched off a controversy that led to an apology and promises it would not happen again. An official with EBS said that “after the incident with Mr. Jang last year we implemented a three-step system of reviewing the lecture videos instead of a two-step system, and we can catch any inappropriate expressions or mistakes of fact.”
EBS is not the only arena where students may hear ideologically-influenced statements from online lecturers. Mr. B, a star lecturer at a private university entrance exams preparation business, currently has online a modern history lecture in which he says that “those who wanted division eventually defeated those who wanted unification. Rhee Syngman and the Korea Democratic Party stuck fast to America and eventually founded a separate government,” and denigrated the meaning of the founding of the ROK. Mr. B said, while explaining modern North Korean history, that “the Lee Myung-bak administration has created problems with North Korea. What you students learn about North Korea will really make you upset.”
Recently some popular lecturers have said things in their lectures such as “Rhee Syngman and Park Chung-hee were bastards,” “Lee Myung-bak is the price index, right?” and “aah, I want to kill that patriot!”
Prof. Kang Gyu-hyeong of Myongji University said that “some of these professors and lecturers are inclined to 1980s ideologies and still are teaching students that view of the world… government and society have not yet realy recognized the serious of this problem.”