Hopes for HangulAt the opening of the Beijing Olympics, the athletes didn’t enter the stadium in alphabetical order but in order of the number of strokes of their respective countries’ names when written in Chinese calligraphy.
For the opening ceremony, dancers joined together in an instant to form a gigantic Chinese character meaning “harmony” or “integration.” China was trying to show the world the esteem with which they regard their language through these demonstrations.
But how do Koreans feel about Hangul, the Korean alphabet and language? People often neglect their own language and are simply uninterested.
Many feel ashamed of themselves if they misspell English words, but do they feel the same if they can’t properly spell in their mother tongue?
Every day, we come across shortened words or simplified spelling on the Internet and many Koreans mangle Chinese characters. If we could put one-tenth of the passion that we have for learning English into learning to write better in Korean, life would be so very different.
Today is Hangul Day, the 562nd anniversary of the proclamation of the Korean alphabet. It is a time to celebrate the creation of our national script and admire its beauty of form.
It is shameful that we degrade the value of a precious cultural heritage instead of cherishing and enriching it. We should do our best to preserve our spoken and written language.
Many schools offer intensive English classes but they should open quality Korean education as well.
We shouldn’t neglect Chinese writing either, because we need it to enrich our understanding of our own language.
The authorities should conduct a project that preserves words that are disappearing or being forgotten. The government’s official Korean dictionary is only three volumes long; Japan’s official dictionary has 33 volumes.
We also should become more interested in teaching Korean worldwide. China has set up dozens of Confucian schools around the world to teach Chinese.
We can also teach Hangul, one of our best cultural products, abroad and thereby produce pro-Korean forces overseas.
The National Academy of the Korean Language has launched overseas lectures on the Korean language for the first time. Sungkyunkwan University holds events on Korean writing in China and Mongolia.
We hope that these international efforts will become more successful in the future and instill a greater pride in our language.