Respect the integrity of hangulToday marks the 569th anniversary of the creation of hangul (Korean alphabet) by King Sejong the Great (1397-1450) in the Joseon dynasty. Hangul Day was set to propagate the excellence and unrivalled convenience of our own writing system, the 13th largest with more than 80 million users. As of now, only 20 countries around the world have their own unique letters.
Korea helped the Cia-Cia - an Indonesian tribe whose spoken language faced extinction - learn Hangul to preserve the tribe’s language. The number of people using hangul is expected to hit as many as 100 million soon. In international conferences, the Korean language was chosen as one of the top ten in the world. Hangul has been receiving excellent appraisals from the international community, which says it’s more scientific, ingenious and polysemantic than any other languages.
Recently, however, hangul has often been abused and misused by an increasing number of people on mobile communication platforms. On KakaoTalk and Facebook, the destruction of hangul is taking place every moment, as seen in myriad unidentified words and weird expressions used in daily conversations. The rampage of expletives and slang with unknown origins are seriously hurting our hangul.
In today’s busy world, calling for decency and integrity could be demanding. The portrayal of objects surrounding us or expression of emotion through ingenious wording could help foster creative thinking. But misguided language could lead to excessive linguistic violence, and that violence devastates our personalities and changes the way we live.
Not only our young generation, but also the older generation must take responsibility for the crisis of language. The use of vulgar words by TV celebrities on popular entertainment programs, and the unnecessary use of borrowed words and insults, are a major culprit in this linguistic debacle.
We welcome the central and local governments’ joint campaign to improve public language, including in administrations. As foreigners and families with multi-cultural backgrounds rapidly increase, the government’ efforts to eliminate and replace Japanese-style administrative terms with new ones deserve to be recognized.
We hope our citizens also join the move, aimed to create a better environment for hangul. To preserve our own writing system - a priceless cultural asset of the world - we must first use it correctly in our daily lives.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 9, Page 34
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