[LETTERS to the editor]Wrong place for English to be criticizedI must take issue with the editorial that appeared in the JoongAng Daily on Oct. 9, 2006, “Upholding Korean language.” The article contends that foreign languages, namely English, and thus foreign influence (i.e., the West) is slowly destroying the beauty and cultural relevance of both the Korean alphabet and the Korean language. This is an idea more apt for the Korea of 1906 than the Korea of 2006. Lambasting the youth for enjoying a foreign language (the same language that this very newspaper is written in and thus also helping to promote) is a farcical irony for a newspaper published in English, whose main readers are Korean.
Undoubtedly, King Sejong was a man of innovation and foresight, as his invention of the Korean alphabet proves. At the very core of his alphabet was the spirit of breaking from the norm, of embracing the new, of creation. These are the very same qualities which the youth of today implement in creating their own mode of communication. Of course, this alienates some (the old-fashioned) just as I’m sure King Sejong’s initial implementation of the new alphabet incensed some during his time.
I’ve found that many young Koreans have great reverence for King Sejong, and they fully realize that all thanks are due to him for the continued protection of Korean culture. However, they are also living in the modern world and they have taken his lesson to heart. Innovation, creation and the courage to break from the past are the very embodiment of King Sejong. King Sejong would surely have realized this, even if the editor of the JoongAng Daily doesn’t.
by Karl Friedhoff