It’s Time to Learn Korean!
It’s Time to Learn Korean!
  • 구은진 기자
  • 승인 2017.10.30 09:00
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In 2017, the Philippine government officially announced that they adopted the Korean language as a second foreign language at middle and high schools in the Philippines. The Philippine government also announced that ten pilot schools will be selected in the capital city of Manila and will soon begin teaching Korean. The Korean language, known as Hangul in Korea, has now become the sixth second foreign language adopted by the Philippine government. In 2014, the Korean Embassy officially proposed to include the Korean language as a second foreign language in the Philippine's schools. This effort is what led to the agreement of the Philippines to accept and officially recognize Korean as a second language. In addition, the Philippine government announced that their goal is not only study the Korean language but also to cultivate qualified Korean teachers. In response, the Korean embassy expressed a desire to support the Korean language education development and that it would hopefully gain momentum which can improve continued mutual cooperation between the two countries.

Besides the Philippines, there are 28 countries which the Korean language is designated as a second foreign language or are officially adopted as a secondary school subject including Thailand, Turkey, China, France, and Taiwan. In these countries some 100,000 people are learning Korean. Also, the number of students who hope to learn and teach Korean is increasing more and more, for example Thailand has adopted the Korean language as a test subject in the College Scholastic Ability Test. This is the first time this has happened in Southeast Asia. This decision was made due to the increased popularity of Korean culture because of the Korean wave (Hallyu).

Why is the Korean language becoming more popular throughout the world like this?

First, K-pop and the Korean wave (Hallyu) were big contributors to this situation. Many foreigners who learn the Korean language first encounter Korean dramas through the internet which peaks their interest in Korean culture. Nowadays, interest in the Korean language is also rising because of K-pop. People reveal that they want to watch K-drama to improve their Korean language so they don’t need dubbing, or they want to send a fan-letter to their favorite Korean stars. For this reason they start to learn Korean. The Korean language learned for these purpose has a charm more than many expected. People have become more and more fascinated by the Korean language as they learn more. Another reason for learning Korean is to have more opportunities to get a job. Korea as is doing the same thing as well, which is emphasizing English and Chinese as second foreign languages, to overcome the unemployment crisis. Similarly, in many countries including China, Japan, and Taiwan having a Korean language license is becoming necessary as their countries’ trade grows with Korea.

The final reason for learning Korean is because it is a beautiful language. In August of 2009, a popular SBS program aired where some Japanese remembered the poet Yu Dong-Ju. They said that through his poems they could accurately recognize parts of history about their country. After reading the poem they felt the beauty of the Korean language and they also felt the Korean sentiment that was expressed through the poem. This inspired them to start to study the Korean language and Yun Dong-Ju's poems. They did not simply study Korean just to read his poems, but they studied as an effort to find a remedy for the two countries, Korea and Japan, in hopes of helping understanding each country’s culture and past. What came out of all of this is permission was obtained from Japan to set up a monument of Yun Dong-Ju in Tokyo. A play was also performed about the life of Yun Dong-Ju. This goes to show that language is not just a language, but a means to understand the culture and sentiments of a country.

The Korean language is currently being introduced into the four major languages in Asia with Japanese, Chinese, and Indonesian, and for this it is increasing the global interest in Korea. In the past, South Korea underwent educational assistance from other countries after undergoing war. However, in the 21st century, South Korea has become a country that offers various educational opportunities for foreigners to learn the Korean language. This indicates Korea's brilliant development. But at the same time, we should consider how to protect and extend Korean culture and the Korean language for the future.

Recently, the use of new words and foreign languages has sharply increased in Korea. Increasingly, communication conflicts between the older generation and new generation is occurring as the older gets left behind due to their lack of knowledge of how to use the Smartphone and internet. There is also an in increase in teenagers who refuse to study the Korean language because the social atmosphere considers studying foreign languages more important. Another problem is that slang and new words aren’t only used on the internet, but they are being used in everyday life situations. They are emerging more and more on popular TV programs and in K-pop music. If more new words continue to appear and be used regularly, the Korean language's worth will be damaged and conflicts for between all generations will increase. Additionally, continual changes can cause confusion to foreigners. As the spotlight is now on the Korean language and interest in Korea increases, it is very important for us to try and preserve the Korean language correctly.

Firstly, at the government level, the government must provide proper regulations for the correct use of the Korean language on the internet and on smart phones. And then they need to provide a variety of opportunities to introduce the Korean language to foreigners so they can communicate with Koreans. The campaign should help everyone feel the beauty of the Korean language too. In addition, exotic foreign words must be changed to Korean and an emphasis on the importance of the Korean language should be made as much as foreign languages. At a personal level, people should learn about the Korean language history on how Hangul originated and the principles of Hangul. People need to participate in a lot of programs provided by the government in introducing the Korean language to the world. Finally, we must be skilled in Korean and appreciate the beauty of our language rather than use convenient new words.

October 9th is the day of Hangul. Hangul is the only writing system in the world that celebrates a language writing system and the creator. The developer of Hangul was Hun Min Jeong Eum. The principle of Hangul is recognized for its superior system and was registered in 1997 by the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is important for us to correctly use and continually try to preserve Hangul with pride. It’s time for us to learn more about the Korean language.


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