[KS] Kim Il Sung, cunning linguist

Afostercarter at aol.com Afostercarter at aol.com
Tue Aug 23 04:51:54 EDT 2005

Dear Listmembers,

Philologists and others may be tickled by this from today's KCNA.
(The curious g  etc are as this appears in the original.)

Who would have guessed that the Great Leader was so exercised
by matters of morphology? (But then Stalin too wrote on linguistics
- or somebody did, under his name.)

For us ignoramuses, could someone kindly explain what was going on
- assuming it's all true - and what was at stake in these debates?

A 6-letter alphabet, for Korean? Even Hawaiian has 12. 10 consonants
at the end of syllables as dastardly imperialism? Enlightenment, please.

Finally, a wry piece from the JoongAng on linguistic misunderstandings 
across the DMZ. Is a pan-Korean Grand Dictionary really in the works?

Best wishes

Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds University 

Home address: 17 Birklands Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3BY, UK 
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[Please use @aol; but if any problems, please try @yahoo too - and let me 
know, so I can chide AOL]

Immortal Feats for Unified Development of National Language

Pyongyang, August 22 (KCNA) -- The compilation of gLarge Korean 
Dictionaryh, the first unified dictionary of the national language, is progressing apace 
in Korea. Philologists of the Academy of Social Sciences are doing their best 
for the work with an ardent patriotism, bearing deep in mind the great efforts 
made by President Kim Il Sung to prevent the division of the national 
language and achieve its unified development. 

Right after the liberation of the country, some fame-seekers "invented" a 
six-letter alphabet and distributed prospectus of alphabetic reform. And they 
organized a committee for the reform and even made up the new Korean spelling 
system. In his historic work gOn the Reform of Lettersh in December Juche 
36(1947), the President, with a profound analysis of the obtaining situation, noted 
that the letter reform was a very important issue related to the future of 
the nation and that the Korean nation was a homogeneous one, which had lived in 
the same territory with the same language and letters from olden times. And he 
said that if the letters were reformed in the north only with the country 
divided into two owing to the occupation of south Korea by the U.S. imperialists 
after the liberation, the people in the north and the south could not read 
each other's publications and letters and the nation would remain divided in the 
long run. 

During a conversation with Ri Kuk Ro, head of the Korean Linguistic 
Association, in the spring of 1949, he stated that the letter reform was a job to be 
done only after national reunification. 

In his famous work gOn Compiling Korean Grammar Textbook Wellh in May 1950, 
he criticized the serious faults of the Korean grammar textbook (written in 
1949) and indicated the direction and way for rewriting the textbook, saying 
that the part on the unscientific and anti-national six-letter alphabet should 
be deleted. In July 1954 he said that the "proposal for simplifying Korean 
alphabet" using 10 consonants at the end of syllables made in south Korea under 
the manipulation of the U.S. imperialists lacked science and logic and that the 
Korean spelling system should be based on the morphological principle without 

When meeting a reverend from south Korea at the end of 1980s, the President 
made very important remarks concerning the compilation of a dictionary for the 
unified development of the national language. 

His remarks served as a definite guarantee for linguistic uniformity in the 
north and the south. 

The compilation of gLarge Korean Dictionaryh is being carried on as an 
important work to implement the behest of President Kim Il Sung and to realize the 
noble idea of leader Kim Jong Il on achieving great national unity.


The Korean language also needs unifying

by Lee Sang-il
Joongang Daily 
Aug. 17, 2005

On March 17, 2000, when Song Ho-kyung, the vice chairman of North Korea's 
Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, met in Beijing with South Korea's then-Minister of 
Culture and Tourism, Park Ji-won, he said, "I have come to prepare 'a grave 
accident' in the history of our division." 

The two were in Beijing for preliminary discussions about the upcoming 
inter-Korean summit. Mr. Song's comment completely perplexed Mr. Park, who thought 
at first that he was talking about a disastrous incident like the Korean War.

When Mr. Park's facial _expression become rigid, Mr. Song rephrased his 
comment. "I meant we should work together to accomplish a historically significant 
task." Now Mr. Park understood what he meant. As Mr. Park later recalled the 
episode, he thought at first that things were souring.

On June 13 of that year, Kim Jong-il was chatting with then-South Korean 
President Kim Dae-jung at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse. The North Korean leader 
said, "The schedule has been tense, so the noodles might not taste very 
good." President Kim was lost for a moment. He knew Mr. Kim was talking about the 
cold noodle soup they were having, but he had no idea that "tense" could mean 
"short of time" in North Korea. Kim Jong-il, for his part, later confided to a 
Russian diplomat that he could understand only 80 percent of what President 
Kim said to him.

When the Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945, the Korean language was 
divided too. The gap grew as Pyongyang exploited the language for socialist 
purposes. In the South, people adopted foreign words and phrases that diversified the 
language. The language barrier between the South and the North has gotten so 
high that we sometimes need an interpreter. 

When an assemblyman offered some tea to Kim Hye-yeon, a North Korean actress 
and defector, she said, "I have no business with it." In North Korea, "I have 
no business" means "it won't be necessary." The assemblyman had no idea what 
the phrase meant, and thought she was being rude. Ms. Kim must have wished for 
an interpreter at the time.

During this week's Liberation Day festivities, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to 
make efforts to unify the standards of Korean writing and speech. The two 
Koreas also have decided to rush the joint compilation of the Korean Language 
Grand Dictionary. As the North Koreans might put it, they have accomplished a 
"grave accident." Once the two Koreas recover the homogeneity of the language, 
communication will be much more straightforward and clear, and we will be a step 
closer to the recovery of national homogeneity.

The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.


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