SEOUL – Expressions such as “comfort women” and “sex slaves,” as well as a photo of comfort women, have been deleted from a South Korean government-designated social studies textbook for six-grade primary school students, which was revised earlier this year, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
According to a South Korean Education Ministry official, a pilot version of the social studies textbook compiled in 2014 carried a photo titled “Comfort women for the Japanese military on the battlefield” with an explanation that they “were forcibly taken to the battlefield to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military.”
However, the official said the photo was deleted from the final revised version of the textbook, which only has the description, “Young women forcibly taken to the battlefield were made to suffer great distress by the Japanese military.”
The ministry had introduced the pilot version of the textbook at some primary schools on a trial basis. Referring to the policy change this time, the official said, “We’ve judged it is inappropriate [to use the expressions and the photo] from the viewpoint of emotional development at the primary school student level.” The official added the policy change has nothing to do with a deal reached between Japan and South Korea over the issue of so-called comfort women late last year.
Some South Korean media are critical about the policy change. “Even correct historical perceptions and education would be threatened due to the humiliating deal,” The Hankyoreh, a daily newspaper, said. “There is no need to change the contents of the textbook.”