The culture wars come to Korea

September 7, 2012

The Unites States has had a heavy influence on Korea ever since the end of the Japanese colonial period following WWII. Along with a temporary US military government and a large contingent of US troops has come a heavy dose of American ideology and religion. Not surprisingly, South Korea now finds itself mired in an American style battle between science and religion.

Gallup surveys have found that around 40 percent of Americans do not believe in evolution. A 2009 South Korean survey found that about one-third of Koreans don’t believe in evolution and, more shockingly, that  40 percent of biology teachers believe that “much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs.”

In May 2012, creationists in South Korean successfully petitioned many publishers of science textbooks to remove references to evolution from their works. More on this can be found in this Nature article “South Korea surrenders to creationists demands.”

But the scientific community is now pushing back. In a recent press conference, The Korea Academy of Science and Technology (KAST) said that the theory of evolution is a key scientific concept that must be taught to all students. They have put forward recommendations to the Seoul City education Board. According to this article in the Hankyoreh at least, the recommendations will likely be accepted. But the battle between science and religion in South Korea is sure to continue.

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