Ideology, nationalism, and education: the case of education reforms in the two Koreas

  • Sun Kim
  • Dong-Joon JungEmail author


This research explores the influences of ideology and nationalism on education reforms in South and North Korea through a comparative historical analysis of education reforms during the transition period from Japanese colonialism to the period of US and Soviet military government control. Ideas of modern education and nationalism had already emerged among Koreans before 1945 when they achieved independence from Japanese colonization. In this sense, during the US and Soviet military regimes, education reforms were conducted in light of already existing efforts for nation-building by indigenous Korean leaders. The hopes and desires of the leaders of the two Koreas, as expressed by their adoption of new ideologies within the newly established military governments, represented a clear break from the past—be that Japanese colonialism or Confucian traditionalism—and a firm determination to change the present for the future in accordance with these ideologies. In the field of education, this change occurred with the introduction of John Dewey’s liberal educational philosophy to rebuild the education system in South Korea, and with the adoption of socialist educational philosophies such as polytechnicism and collectivism in North Korea.


Education reform Ideology Nationalism South Korea North Korea 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 19th International Conference on Education Research held in the Seoul National University during October 17–19, 2018.


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korean Educational Development InstituteJincheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Social Studies EducationInha UniversityIncheonSouth Korea

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