[KS] Kim Il Sung, cunning linguist

James B. Lewis jay.lewis at oriental-institute.oxford.ac.uk
Tue Aug 23 11:57:40 EDT 2005

Dear Aidan,
I have heard that the well-known poet, Ko Un, has been to the DPRK in 
July and August to attend conferences concerned with the co-compilation 
of the dictionary mentioned in the articles, so I do think that a 
pan-Korean grand dictionary is in the works.

Jay Lewis
Afostercarter at aol.com wrote:

> 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
> Aidan
> Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds 
> University
> Home address: 17 Birklands Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3BY, UK
> tel: +44(0)  1274  588586         (alt) +44(0) 1264 737634          
> mobile:  +44(0)  7970  741307
> fax: +44(0)  1274  773663         ISDN:   +44(0)   1274 589280
> Email: afostercarter at aol.com     (alt) afostercarter at yahoo.com      
> website: www.aidanfc.net
> [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 fail.
> 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
> http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200508/17/200508172153348209900090109012.html 
> 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.

JB Lewis
University Lecturer in Korean
Oriental Institute
Pusey Lane
Oxford  OX1 2LE
United Kingdom
email: jay.lewis at orinst.ox.ac.uk
tel: +44-(0)1865-278200 (messages)
fax: +44-(0)1865-278190 (attn. Lewis)

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