UPDATE : 2019.12.5 Thu 23:42
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Korean Festival Week and Hangul Proclamation Day

On October 7th and 8th, the department of Korean language and literature held its 7th Korean Festival Week to celebrate Hangul Proclamation Day. This festival included displays of poems with illustrations, writing contests, Korean word games, and Ted talks given by students.

The calligraphic poems were displayed on the grass in front of the humanities building throughout the event. Over 30 people submitted their poems from the department of Korean language and literature, as well as other departments. It was displayed indoors for a while during the first day because of the bad weather, but fortunately the following day was clear enough for the display to move outdoors. Several language games, such as making acrostic poems and confusing spelling quizzes, were played next to the display. Korean is a good language to make acrostic poems with since the gathering of a few letters to form a syllable adequately limits the options of possible words. This restriction can make the sentences more poetic. So many students had great confidence in the spelling quiz. However, the results showed them that there are many common words that are often spelled incorrectly. People have a tendency to think native speakers do not make grammar or spelling mistakes. In fact, speaking a language fluently and spelling correctly are not exactly the same. The department of Korean language and literature gave out cultural gift coupons as prizes to the participants for taking the quiz, and as a reminder to love and care for the Korean language.

The writing contest took place on the first day of the festival from 2 p.m. to 5p.m. Prose and verse contests were held separately with the participation of over 70 students. Any student who wanted to register during the contest hours could receive a writing sheet. All they needed to do was submit their writing before 5p.m., regardless of the length of the writing or where they did the writing. The awards ceremony took place at the end of the festival, on October 8th at 6p.m., with writing evaluated by the professors of the Korean language and literature department. Sixteen students were chosen to receive prizes and scholarships from 50,000 won to 250,000 won.

The Student Council, who organized the festival, expressed their gratitude for all of the participation and awareness that the festival received. Kim Tea-hyun, the student president of the department of Korean language and literature, said: “It was very rewarding to hold such an event. One thing I want to improve on next time is the illustrations. We received poems from the students, but the council members did the illustrations for each poem. If we can collaborate with the department of art or design, we can showcase Korean calligraphy more next time.”

Among the over 7 thousand languages spoken by people around the world, the Korean writing system is the only system of which its inventor, the date of invention, and the guiding principles are known. Hangul was publicly announced in 1446 (the 28th year of King Se-Jong). Hangul was not the only writing system that was invented at that time. But most of the other writing systems that were invented in other countries were not as widely used, or not practical enough to learn. Eventually, many writing systems were pushed out by other writing systems, such as the Latin Alphabet, and gradually disappeared. Hangul was invented by King Se-Jong and his scholars to be used by the common people of Korea because the king felt that an easy written language was needed. Before Hangul, Koreans used Chinese characters to write even though the spoken language was Korean. Hangul was easy enough to be taught in a couple of weeks to Korean speakers, so it spread to millions of people soon after it was made official.

Hangul Proclamation Day was first celebrated on November 4th, 1926. It was called ‘Gagyanal’, which isn’t the name known to most people today. Two years later, its name was changed to Hangul Day, and in 1949 it became an official holiday. It had been very controversial among historians and politicians whether to make it a national holiday or a day of celebration. Some people do not approve of having a day to celebrate a language. It implies that Hangul should be celebrated with equal importance as Independence Day or Memorial Day which are days dedicated to war heros. After much debate and discussion, Hangul Proclamation Day became an official national holiday in 2013, and Hangul is valued as a scientific and unique language. As more Koreans consider Hangul a language worth celebrating, more people will notice the greatness of Hangul around the world.

▲ Students who received awards in the writing contest.

Han Si-in  siin0517@naver.com

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