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Hangeul, Our Precious!Greeting the Upcoming 558th Hangeul Proclamation Day
 As a scholar, whose main academic activity is studying and researching our language Korean, the month of September is special to me, because The Hangeul Proclamation Day falls on October the 9th.
  The morning fresh air and the evening chillness are telling us the fall is just around the corner... After the seemingly everlasting scorching heat of summer withdrew itself. Come to think of it, when the summer yields its way, we know that the fall takes on its way. The seasonal change has never deceived us, since it simply follows the order of nature. When it comes to order, we know too well that our society can never do without it. The order is not only a provision of the nature, but also a driving force of our society. In a society, where people with different opinions and various thoughts should communicate and share their beliefs and ideas, the most important medium for an effective communication is, needless to say, a language, spoken of written. Language is a primary channel that bridges and links each individual to the society they belong to.
  What may be an essential key for a better communication? It is, I firmly believe, that the language order (i.e., rules) that a speaker and a listener have in common. Suppose the speaker's order of language and that of the listener's are not the same; suppose each individual in a society does not respect enough the order of language. The chaotic order of language only brings us the failure of effective communication. Without an effective communication, we can never wish for a refined culture. Farther more, we may even have to expect the serious damage of the spirit of our people, because, like they say, language is the best vessel that contains the thought of its people. I cannot think of any single social activity that we can proceed without communicating in language.
  With the upcoming Hangeul Proclamation Day, I give some thoughts to Hangeul, one of the most invaluable assets of our people Korean.
  A funny story comes across us; there lived native people near the Congo River in Africa. They mistook diamonds for invaluable stones and exchanged them with candies given by missionaries.
  Let us take a moment, and think where Hangeul stands in our society. Does Hangeul receive and earn the kinds of respect it deserves?  Do people use Hangeul with care and appreciation?
  Unreasonableness and insincere flattery using foreign words and marking in standard language, not thinking a vital power of fluent conversation, which would be bright and uniform even with one effort, the indiscrete usage of a non-standard language, a slang word, vulgarism, as if we don't know value of water and air without taking care of them, and so on.
  What are these other than living just with a stupid thought of "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence" deserting truly precious our thing?
  In recent Daum news, there was a report of SBS, "A legend of the new school," dictation program arranged for "Loving Hangeul and the right usage of Hangeul." There were 20 entertainers; they had to write in Korean after listening to the questions within fixed time. But, most of them didn't score average 50.
  In fact, we appreciate the birth of this program in a bad situation, the phenomenon of destroying Hangeul become worse in the broadcasting and the Internet.
  Yet the things we should reflect make us serious. Are there less than half who use our language correctly and accurately? As a matter of fact, it's been a while since we destroy our speech and writing, so it is worried if the voice of reflection is too late.
  We Koreans are so lucky to have our own writing system Hangeul, after long dark years of borrowing and adopting Chinese character in the form of Hyangchal and Idu. In the early 15th century, the Great King Sejong invented the very vessel for our spoken language, a superb writing system, and named it as "Hunminjeongeum." We Koreans can righteously take pride in the world wide recognition of Hangeul in many ways: the inventor of Hangeul is recorded unlike many other written systems whose inventor is unknown in the history; the scientific feature of Hangeul is superb enough to amaze the world, because no writing system in the world is profound enough to embrace the universal harmony. Farther more, no writing system in the world is scientific enough to depict the articulatory gestures of speech sounds.
  We should keep out health when we are healthy. If is of no use feeling regretful when we lose our speech and writing, even when they get older and worn out.
  If convenient products that we came to enjoy by change of life and elevation of cultural position destroy a nation's language ecosystem and even endanger its existence, it the abundance of convenient products a real one? A historian said, "If a slave doesn't know he or she is a slave, the slave is a permanent slave." Its meaning is the same as a maxim to us. Isn't it our duty that we should take charge of the work for restoration of one our beautiful word?
  Taking pride in our language and respecting it are actively putting our will to use it into practice. We remember the saying of Oesol Choe Hyeon-bae who took the initiative in practice.
  "Speech shows spirit and writing shows speech. Therefore, Spirit, speech, and writing are three and at the same time, they are one. Wherever Baedal nation's spirit goes, there are speech and writing. And wherever speech and writing go, there is spirit as well."
  The writer is a professor in the Dept. of Korean Education at DU.

Kim Hye-souk  The Dongguk Post

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