She’s a winner for passion about Korea

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She’s a winner for passion about Korea


Isabelle Leemann, 25, from Switzerland, receives first prize for her speech about “Passionate Koreans,” at the 14th World Korean Language Speech Contest for Foreigners on Friday at Kyung Hee University in Seoul. Provided by the school

Veronika Novgorodova, a 22-year-old Russian student, stood in front of hundreds of people on Friday and delivered a speech about her favorite Korean food, bibimbap, or rice with mixed vegetables.

Novgorodova was the first to deliver a speech among 21 foreigners who competed in the finals of the 14th World Korean Language Speech Contest for Foreigners.

“Before I knew about bibimbap, Korean food was too spicy for me so I only had fast food, which made me look like this,” Novgorodova said, pointing at her handmade T-shirt, which was adorned with a three-dimensional bowl of bibimbap in the center. She even wore a headband adorned with chopsticks.

Novgordova’s speech wasn’t perfect. She still had a Russian accent and elements of Korea’s Gyeongsang dialect, which she picked up while studying as an exchange student at Daegu University in North Gyeongsang, majoring in Korean language, but she managed to talk about why bibimbap is her “destined food,” within the given three minutes.

This year’s speech contest, which was started in 1998 and is organized by the Institute of International Education of Kyung Hee University and Yonhap News Agency, had the largest number of applicants, reaching 1,134 from 36 different countries ranging from Germany and Nepal to Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. The 21 finalists were required to deliver a speech about either their favorite Korean food or a personal experience regarding Korean culture. Some contestants showed up wearing hanbok, Korean traditional clothes, while some wore their own traditional dress.

A Saudi Arabian student, Abdulhadi Alahmadi, 24, showed up wearing a white thawb, a traditional Saudi Arabian dress along with a ghutra, a headdress for Arab men. Alahmadi, who came to Korea in February last year as a scholarship student, is a student at Korea Polytechnic University in Siheung, Gyeonggi. He talked about his love of football and the enthusiastic cheering culture of Korea during the World Cup in 2010.

“I felt like I was rooting for my own country,” said Alahmadi in his speech. “I even had my face painted with a Korean flag,” he added.

About 20 of his Saudi Arabian friends from Korea Polytechnic University, all wearing the same traditional dress, came to support Alahmadi on the day in a chartered bus they rented just to see their friend. Alahmadi didn’t disappoint his friends and went home with a runner-up award, receiving prize money of 750,000 won ($688).

Contestants were evaluated by 10 judges from diverse fields, ranging from a Korean language professor to well-known chef Yang Ji-hoon, based on content, expression and attitude.

First place went to Isabelle Leemann, 25, from Switzerland, who talked about Koreans’ passionate characteristics. She received 1 million won in prize money.

“I realized after living in Korea, that I am more of a Korean than a Swiss,” said Leemann, who is doing an internship at the Swiss Embassy in Korea.

“Now I can’t get through the cold winter without an ondol floor, (Korean floor heating system), and I feel Swiss food is too bland for me,” said Leemann, who ended her speech by saying “as you can see, my appearance is not Korean, despite wearing this hanbok. I still have blond hair, brown eyes and a sharp nose. But I am definitely a Korean-like Swiss girl.”

Kim Jung-sup, director of the Institute of International Education at Kyung Hee University, said that “this speech competition is not the place to compete over one’s Korean speaking abilities but a place of communication, where Koreans listen to foreigners’ points of view and seek ways to harmoniously coexist with foreigners in Korea.”

By Yim Seung-hye []

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

외국인들, 경희대서 한국어 실력 자랑

외국인 21명, ‘한국음식ㆍ문화’ 생생 체험담

재한 외국인들이 한국어 실력을 겨루는 제14회 세계 외국인 한국어 말하기 대회가 13일 서울 동대문구 회기동 경희대 크라운관에서 개최됐다.

연합뉴스(사장 박정찬)와 경희대 국제교육원(원장 김중섭)이 공동 주최한 이번 행사에는 `열정적인 한국인들`을 발표한 스위스 출신 리만 이사벨(25.여)씨가 대상인 문화체육관광부장관상을 받았다.

그는 이날 대회에서 한국인들은 `열정적`이라고 평가하면서 그 열정이 한국의 기후와 요리, 문화에서 나온다고 설명했다.

이와 함께 국가브랜드위원장상(특상)은 사우디아라비아의 압둘하디(24)씨, 경희대 총장상(최우수상)은 네팔의 박타 프라사드 거이레(26)씨, 한국다문화연대 이사장상(특별상)은 우즈베키스탄의 김인가(21.여)씨에게 각각 돌아갔다.

이날 대회엔 50대1의 경쟁률을 뚫고 본선에 오른 외국인 21명이 `내가 좋아하는 한국 음식`과 `한국문화체험`을 주제로 다양한 사연을 전했다.

참가자들은 비빔밥, 된장찌개, 순두부, 김치, 닭갈비, 파전 등의 한국 음식과 목욕탕, 길거리 응원 등의 한국 문화를 접한 느낌과 자신의 생각을 이방인의 호기심과 애정이 담긴 어조로 풀어냈다.

김중섭 경희대 국제교육원장은 "오늘 대회는 외국인의 한국어 실력을 겨루는 경쟁의 자리가 아니라 경희 안에서 세계가 만날 수 있는 가교인 동시에 대화의 장"이라며 "한국 음식과 한국 문화에 대해 진솔한 이야기를 나누고 교감할 수 있는 자리가 됐으면 좋겠다"고 기원했다.

박정찬 연합뉴스 사장은 축사에서 "이 대회가 올해 14회째를 맞아 참가자들이 1천명을 넘어서며 매년 규모가 커지고 있다"며 "이는 한국어를 매개로 문화와 가치관이 다른 세계인이 하나가 되어가고, 한국어가 세계 속의 언어로 뻗어가고 있음을 보여주는 것"이라고 말했다.

세계 외국인 한국어 말하기 대회는 세종대왕 탄신 600주년을 기념해 1998년 처음 개최됐다.

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