[KS] Hangul Patriotism questions.....

JooBai Lee jblee6952 at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 23 12:02:36 EDT 2003

<Hangul Patriotism questions>


  First an off-note on homophone.  In the case of Korean, I wonder  
to what category of confounding of sound and meaning the following 
example belongs?

    SBS and HanGyuRye today reported that Japanese-speak
    color terminology is out and that pure Korean terms will
    take their place.  Just another modest act of patriotism.

    As an example: (Japan-speak) <nog.seg> with 
                           (pure-Korean) <cho.log>

  I would venture that, though one is "Japan-speak" and the other is
  "pure-Korean", <-.log> and <nog.-> is, dare I say, an alloform of 
  homonomy(homophone).  Is there an accurate term for the above 
  situation?  Does above happen both above and below the 38th?
  So is it maybe heteronomy(?) below the 38th and homonomy 
  above the 38th?

  With the passing of another Hangul Founding Day, I have 
been struck by several puzzlements and would like to 
ask for some enlightenment.

  I suppose the media's flurry of activity on the Founding Day 
is an annual ritual; each passing year marked by better special 
effects, amazing professional editing, deeper research.

  It also seems an occassion for the standard conscious media to 
warn of impending language-death for Korean and to put the blame 
squarely on the less than studious and increasingly rebellious 

  And so that, for example, the youth are held to be responsible 
for the most recent result of the national language competency 
test.  Here, that the youth is blamed is somewhat puzzling, for 
while the results showed a score of 50 something, which was 
compared  to the result for the Japan of high 60's, it was infact the young 
that had the highest scores.  So the high-school and college 
students had the highest scores on all the components, with the 
scores declining precipitously with age.

  So we had the youth clearly keeping the nation from going under 
into the "fail zone", presumably below 50, and yet they are held 
responsible, at least by the unhappy media.

  I have gathered some questions that the past week has 
prompted in me.  I hope you can help.

1.  I recall reading that the first government sanctioned use of 
Hangul was during the Hideyoshi invasion of Korea, where the 
military communications were conducted in Hangul. Does anyone know 
of accurate reference for this point?  Can anyone throw light on 
the motivation, etc.? Were they using some amazing cryptographic 
schemes? Is there some yet unwritten and glorious history of 
cryptography in Korea?

2.  I also recall that during the reign of GoJong, the government 
newspaper was published completely in hangul, so it appeared in 
some newspaper articles.  Does anyone know the story behind this 
publication?  Was the readership the general public or the 
officialdom?  Why in hangul?  Why not in hanmun?  Was the paper 
meant for Joe and Jack of Korea?  Was GoJong a populist, a standard 
bearer of modernity?

2.1 While the media hailed Hangul as a glorious human achievement 
recognized and envied worldwide, and invented for the exclusive 
purpose of putting the popular speech of the Korean people, I am 
puzzled by another piece of my own recollection.  Apparently, 
Sin SookJoo, an official most closely associated with the Hangul 
project, was sent to China to do research, and several times at that. 
Shouldn't he have been collecting dialectal data from the various 
provinces of Korea instead of heading to China?  Can anyone clarify 
this point?

3.  There seems to be an obvious equation between Hangul and Korean 
language.  So, teaching hangul is teaching Korean language, etc.  I 
suppose it could be justified on the ground that Koreans are pretty 
much the only people who use hangul, i.e. nobody else uses it.  I 
suppose a logical extension would be for the Japanese to say 
kana=Japanese language, or alphabet=English language.  And I 
suppose, knowing hangul is knowing Korean, by such reckoning.

  How widespread is this belief?  Do they really believe it?  
What language do the Koreans believe they were speaking before the 
use of Hangul became accepted? <Han GyuRye> newspaper seems to be 
always at the forefront of such claims.  Does anyone know the history 
of this newspaper?

5.  There were some patriotic arguments in the Parliament over 
hangul-vs-hanja name plates, which appeared to have been timed 
for the Hangul Founding Day.  On this point, Professor Ramsey's 
book on Korean language had a rather pithy comment ascribing 
responsibility for the disappearnce of hanja on the publishers 
themselves, who are said to cite bottom-line rationale.  Does 
anyone have anymore detail on this "profit motive"?  I always 
thought it was an issue of patriotism.

7.  Finally a question about editing practice in Korean media. 
Regardless of the many authors, each publication seemed 
to have a very consistent orthography, with very constrained 
endings.  This seemed particulary true of weekly and monthly 
magazines.  Is it true that there is a governmental body that 
penalizes publications for being "off" the official orthography? 
That this penalty is financial?  And that even radio broadcasts 
must adhere to "standard" speech?


JooBai Lee

jblee6952 at hotmail.com


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