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[Editorial] Correct Langugage Usage

Posted December. 24, 2008 07:25,   


The first government survey on adult literacy in 38 years has found that the illiteracy rate dropped from seven percent in 1970 to 1.7 percent this year. Illiteracy in the country has miraculously decreased from 77.8 percent after liberation from Japanese rule in 1945 to near the average level of advanced nations (1.4 percent). This is the result of hard efforts made by the country and parents over the past six decades, something to be proud of.

As few Koreans are illiterate, it is now more important to use correct Korean and love it. German writer Goethe said the national language is the spirit of the country. Only when Koreans care for their language can they retain their cultural identity, nurture people with the correct values, and create a quality society. This type of attitude, however, is severely lacking.

Being often contaminated and destroyed, the Korean language, which was supposed to be more beautiful and abundant, is getting rough, dirty and vulgar. Broken Korean is commonly used on the Internet, an essential part of life. The Web is also being bombarded with foreign words. As seen in the suicide of actress Choi Jin-sil, who killed herself due to malicious comments about her on the Internet, the Net has turned into a means of expressing hate and foul language.

Elementary school students, who are accustomed to the improper use of the language, are using incorrect, distorted and sarcastic words and expressions used on the Internet to do their homework. This is a source of grave concern for the future of the Korean language.

Another reason for the tainted use of Korean is public networks. The Korea Communications Commission has warned an MBC program for airing vulgar and impolite words more than 100 times per broadcast. Six programs of KBS and SBS also received warnings. Public networks are supposed to protect Korean given their tremendous power in the television era, but are leading the contamination of the language.

The swearing of politicians live on the media is another serious problem. Therefore, Korea must act to protect the Korean language rather than rest on its laurels for reducing illiteracy.