Teachers in South Korea are once again at the forefront of the fight for democratic education. The government has brought in a decree, mandating one history book, which will be called 'the Correct Textbook of History.' Previously teachers were allowed to select history books from a list of eight publishers.

The Korean Teachers Union (KTU) has announced that it will issue a statement denouncing the move and get members to sign it. Meanwhile the government is threatening teachers who sign it, saying in a :

Since we are planning to respond sternly according to law and principle if teachers participate in a petition campaign or a political statement opposing state-issued history textbooks, . . .  We will take disciplinary measures and initiate criminal proceedings against teachers who sign a political statement or who attend unauthorized demonstrations. Teachers must refrain from large-scale group action so as not to weaken trust in public school education, and they must faithfully do their jobs.

This is not the first time the Korean government has punished teachers for expressing political views. The KTU was illegalised by the government for keeping in membership teachers who had been sacked for exercising their democratic right to protest. However the KTU is defiant, saying not only will it get members to sign the petition, it will publish their names and their school addresses. 

The KTU says that opposition to government plans are spreading 'like wildfire', with opposition politicians and academics joining the campaign and it threatens an all-out struggle if the plans are not withdrawn.

This latest struggle is part of an , which has seen the KTU defying government threats and fighting for democracy, for a curriculum based on critical education and against standardised testing. Meanwhile the government is led by President Park Guen Hye, who gave the welcoming address at the UN's Global Education Forum, held in the South Korean capital this year, surrounded by the great and the good in the education world, while Korean teachers protested outside.  The contradiction between the rhetoric of education 'reformers' and the reality of the attack on democratic, public education could not be more stark.