South Korea: Primary Textbooks Show Racial Biases

no-racismSome textbooks for primary and secondary students contain racial biases at the risk of implanting stereotypes at an early age and perpetuating them for life.

This conclusion was made at the July 20-21 Conference for Racial Discrimination in Korean Society, with the participation of 47 NGOs.

In the “Guidebook for Moral life” textbook of third graders, international students studying in Korea are depicted as Caucasian, while Hispanics, Southeast Asians, and blacks are immigrant workers.

Another example is a third graders’ Social Studies textbook, which has an illustration for greetings by countries. In it, Americans are fully dressed, while Kenyans are barely wearing any clothes except leaves.

Some biases are very subtle: one question in a Korean middle textbook asks, “What are the difficulties that multicultural youths may face in Korean society?”

Lee Jung-eun, secretary general of the Human Rights Association in Asian Culture, a participant in the conference, told The Korea Times, “Such a question hides an assumption that all multicultural youths must be having difficulties in their lives.”

Lee also noted a strong tendency of exclusivity in the textbook, pointing out that many textbooks referred to a multicultural community as a “group of others rather than part of our society.”

“Multicultural communities have not called for corrective measures as yet, but we will soon be collaborating with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea to deal with this issue,” Lee said.


By  Jung Hae-myoung

(Korea Times)

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