SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, on Friday ordered his government to abolish state-issued history textbooks for middle and high school students, his first move to erase the unpopular legacies of his impeached and ousted predecessor, Park Geun-hye.
Mr. Moon's order was largely symbolic. The three history textbooks prepared by Ms. Park's government have been so unpopular that only one of the country's roughly 5,500 middle and high schools has adopted one of them. But even that school was temporarily barred from using the book after parents filed a lawsuit.
In 2015, Ms. Park, the daughter of the military dictator Park Chung-hee, announced that all middle and high schools would be required to abandon the privately published textbooks they used and adopt the new government-issued books beginning this year. She said the "left-leaning" private textbooks tainted the minds of young children. In what was billed as one of her signature policies, her government worked with a secretly selected panel of scholars to write new textbooks that it said would instill students with a sense of patriotism.
But her plan faced immediate protests. Critics accused Ms. Park of returning the nation's history education to the days of her father, whose government issued textbooks that sought to justify his dictatorial rule.
When drafts of the state textbooks were unveiled in November, opposition parties and scholars quickly accused them of highlighting the achievements of Ms. Park's father, such as rapid economic growth during his rule, while giving cursory treatment to abuses like the torture and execution of dissidents.
Ms. Park's textbook effort then became untenable after a corruption scandal engulfed her presidency late last year. A special prosecutor who investigated the scandal later accused her government of blacklisting writers, artists and movie directors deemed left-leaning and unfriendly to her government, excluding them from government support programs.