International Influences on the Development of Special Education Legislation in South Korea
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Previous research on disability and special education in South Korea focused on the origins of the long-standing stigmas that surrounds the disabled community. These studies discussed the impacts of religion, such as Confucianism, on the belief that people with disabilities are being punished for their past sins. Although these beliefs are now uncommon, many studies have been conducted to reveal the lasting impacts of such stigmas. Unlike the abundance of studies that focused on the impacts of the stigmas surrounding people with special needs, there is a lack of research that examines the creation, application, and constraints of past and current special education guidelines in South Korea. This study examines the international, cultural, social, and political influences on the development of the past and current special education policies in South Korea. The outcome of these influences enabled the special education legislation to transform from policies and laws that once solely emulated other international guidelines to legislations that possess its unique characteristics. This study also utilizes existing literature on special education policies and interventions to examine the importance of South Korean educators' perspectives and attitudes when implementing new guidelines. The study will also guide in the understanding of the huge gap between legislation on paper and the actual practice of the policies. Although legislation in Korea has rapidly incorporated special education into the public education system and recently advocated the importance of inclusive education, reality reveals a lack of support from general South Korean citizens and an inadequate understanding of the concept of early intervention and inclusive education. This is attributed to many cultural factors and stigma surrounding the disabled community.