Just like the alphabet Hangul, the Korean language reflects Korea's society, history and values. However, Koreans have tended to neglect its values recently. The tendency to praise foreign language speakers, especially speakers of English, has hurt the reputation of the Korean language. Many people speak English words during their speeches in official meetings, and it is considered more "intellectual" to refer to complex ideas in English than it is to use their Korean designations.
Moreover, instead of looking to Korean roots for words to express new ideas, people simply borrow foreign terms whenever possible. Even when there is a word, which has the desired meaning in native Korean, people use Chinese, Japanese (which came to Korea during Japanese Colonization) or English. Efforts have been made to change this tragic situation, but continuous work is needed to keep up with all the new words being circulated with disregard for Korea's own linguistic heritage.
On the bright side, there are more and more foreigners who are learning Korean. For this year's Korean Language Proficiency Test, 27,000 people from 24 countries applied, which is a 50 percent increase compared to last year. It is forecast that this increase will continue with the popularity of Korean TV programs, movies, music and culture.
Given this atmosphere, we are proud to note that Ewha's Korean Language Counseling Center (KLCC) was designated as National Korean Language Counseling Center in September. With this designation, numerous conferences on Hangul and on teaching Korean were held. Now as guardian of the KLCC, Ewha should keep up its efforts to preserve and develop our language. Moreover, the KLCC should extend its efforts to help students use Korean properly, one of the KLCC's main roles.
The Ewha Voice, though an English newspaper, must also make an effort to promote Hangul to international students. As we remember Hangul Day, we will make every effort to keep this goal in mind, and we hope to bring our readers more news about the Korean language in the near future.