> Korean Textbooks over the Years: A Window into Korean Education > Textbooks during the Liberation and Government Establishing Period

The Consolidation and Revival of Korean Language Textbooks, Textbook climate immediately after Liberation

The Japanese Empire fell and the U.S. Armed Forces arrived onto the Korean Peninsula. Under the command of MacArthur, the troops landed on Incheon. Lieutenant General John R. Hodge, as the Commander of the US Armed Forces in Korea, established the US military headquarters in Seoul and seized control of the Southern half of the Korean peninsula. The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) was established, and the military government assumed responsibility for government functions. Commander Hodge appointed Captain Earl N. Lockard as the Director of Education, who assumed responsibility for educational administration south of the 38th parallel and began dealing with education related matters.

Korean education at the hands of the USAMGIK was understood from various points of view. Some took the view that it was a form of "cultural imperialism," while others thought of it as "national or democratic education." In sum, educational rule as implemented by the U.S. through military rule was a period of historical transition, during which time the established ruling power was replaced by another. This time period saw the reorganization of social and educational systems over a period of three years. As a result, the changes that occurred during this time left a huge impact on the history of Korean education and textbooks.

As the administration of educational affairs began, the first urgent matter that had to be dealt with was planning what to teach to students, that is, the preparation of a "syllabus" or national curriculum. The first policy by the USAMGIK regarding education was released on September 17, 1945 as General Order Number 4, "Education for the Joseon people of the New Joseon." This was the beginning of a national curriculum in Korea. This official announcement communicated the reopening of public schools in every province of Korea, which would be September 24th for primary schools and October 1st for secondary schools, and also included instructions for the language of instruction and course of study. After some revision, USAMGIK Ordinance Number 6 was announced on September 29th of the same year:

Article 4 Language of Instruction
The language of instruction for all Joseon schools shall be in the Joseon [Korean] language. Until a sufficient number of Korean language teaching materials have been prepared, the use of foreign language teaching materials is acceptable.

Article 5 Course of Study
Subject matter against the interest of Joseon [Korea] may not be taught or practiced.

The above "syllabus" and related broad instructions, which included which textbooks to be used, opened the door for future education policies.

USAMGIK Ordinance Numbers 4 and 6 were necessary emergency measures about things such as the reopening of schools (public and private), the registration of school-aged children, the abolition of racial and religious discrimination, the language of instruction and problem of which textbooks to use, as well as the prohibition of classes that were against the interests of the country.

On October 21st, the military government education and management bureau issued the "Explanation and Instructions for Schools" in Educational Affairs Notice Number 352, which provided a supplemental explanation of the intention behind the emergency measures as instructed in USAMGIK Ordinance Number 6. It explained that complete revision of the educational system would be postponed, and that for the time being, the existing system would be followed. The temporary solution would be to evaluate matters on a case-by-case basis. For example, the language course would be changed from Japanese to Korean, and in the case of history courses, Korean history would be taught rather than Japanese history. Because publishing textbooks was a matter that would require a great deal of time, it was instructed that "If no Korean language textbooks exist, subjects can be taught either without a textbook or with teacher consultation of other textbooks, such as those written in the Japanese language." In such a way, the national curriculum at the beginning of the Military Government Period condoned the use of textbooks from the Japanese Occupation Period. In those cases, only the titles were changed. For example, "Morals" was substituted with "Civics," "Language (Japanese)" with "Language (Korean)," "Drawing" with "Drawing and Crafts," and "Occupation" with "Practical Course."

First Step of Hangeul

Hangeul 敎授指針(Elementary school Korean textbook)

Elementary School Korean Textbook (Advanced.Intermediate.Beginner)


Middle School Korean Textbook

Our Neighboring Countries

Baduki and Cheolsu

Theory of Culture

Growing Mulberry Tree

Development of Our Country


SEOUL, 06579


Tel) 82-2-535-4142
Fax) 82-2-590-5030