[Weekender] Waiting on the North: Unified Korean dictionary project's long journey

부모와 아이 2023-12-04 11:28:30 96

How long does it take to create a dictionary? The first comprehensive German dictionary, compiled by the Brothers Grimm in 1838, took more than 120 years to complete.

In 1911, during the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula, the quest to create the first-ever Korean dictionary began. The dictionary was published in 1947, two years after Korea's liberation in 1945.

Another quest to create an extensive and comprehensive Korean dictionary called "Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon” has been underway since 2005.

The objective of the "Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon” is to establish a linguistic foundation for the Korean language, benefiting not only the two Koreas -- whose linguistic divide continues to deepen -- but also Koreans living outside the country.

An idea to create a unified dictionary for the two Koreas emerged in 1989 when the late South Korean pastor, theologian, poet and activist Moon Ik-hwan suggested it while meeting with the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung during Moon’s visit to Pyongyang.

In 2004, a joint board was formed that would create such a dictionary by no later than 2011.

“Once we are unified, the dictionary would play a conducive role, reducing confusion in communications between the South and North Korean people, which is indirectly experienced through some 34,000 North Korean defectors here,” Min Hyun-sik, the chairman of the Joint Board of South and North Korea for the Compilation of Gyeoremal-Keunsajeon, told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

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