Simple Yet Complicated: U.S. History Represented in South Korean History Textbooks


Elementary and Early Childhood Education

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Framing history/social studies textbooks as a social construction designed to create a public memory of a national history and history of the Other, we investigated how U.S. history is represented in South Korea's social studies textbooks and what images and ideas of the United States are encouraged for South Korean students to take. To answer this question, we conducted a content analysis of the presentation of U.S. history in middle school social studies textbooks used in South Korean schools. Our findings show that (1) South Korea's textbook accounts of U.S. history predominantly portray the United States as a world leader in democracy and peace building; (2) the textbook accounts of U.S. history generally miss the events and figures that have historical significance for U.S. domestic contexts; and (3) the history of controversial U.S.–Korea relations as well as learning opportunities for historical thinking are also missing in the textbook accounts.