By Patrick Bray
DLIFLC Public Affairs
MONTEREY, Calif. – The ninth of October every year in Korea is Hangul Day, translated as Alphabet Day, and is a holiday commemorating the gift of a simplified alphabet from King Sejong the Great to his people in 1446, replacing complicated Chinese characters.
“Being of foreign origin, Chinese characters are incapable of capturing uniquely Korean meanings. Therefore, many common people have no way to express their thoughts and feelings,” said the king, according to the alphabet’s historical account.
More than 500 years later, the Korean alphabet withstood the test of time and is being taught all around the world, to include the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, California.
To celebrate Hangul Day, the Korean School at the institute held the 13th Annual Korean Alphabet Day Video Contest, and the best three videos were shown at an awards ceremony Oct. 8. The contest themes “Our favorite moments from studying the Korean language” and “Studying the Korean language at DLIFLC” allowed students to showcase their Korean writing ability and cultural awareness in a fun way.
For the video entries, awards were given by Col. Philip Deppert, DLIFLC commandant, Ron Nelson on behalf of the DLIFLC provost, and Marina Cobb, dean of the Korean School.
Awards were also given for participation in the 24th Annual Korean Language Writing Contest for Foreign Nationals hosted by Yonsei University in Seoul, who judged the entries.
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Samuel Vu won first place for a poem he wrote in Korean and read it aloud at the awards ceremony.
“When I look into the black of the night sky, I see only your brightness,” Vu read in Korean reciting his poem.
“This was unexpected, but it feels great to win,” said Vu afterwards, who is still early in the Korean program and had no prior experience with the language.
Second place poetry winner Airman 1st Class Jaymin Ko comes from a Korean family, but grew up in Colorado. Studying at DLIFLC is also his first real experience with Korean.
“The teachers at DLIFLC do a very good job. Korean is a difficult language, but we also have a lot of fun in class learning,” said Ko.
“Summer passes and turns to autumn. Autumn passes and turns to winter. That star in the sky is always there for me,” Ko recited in Korean.
Chul-soon Choi, education director for the Korean Consulate General in San Francisco, was a special guest at the ceremony and spoke about the spread of the Korean alphabet around the world and commended the students for studying the Korean alphabet. To see the alphabet so widely used by so many people pays homage to the efforts of King Sejong, said Choi.
DLIFLC is regarded as one of the finest schools for foreign language instruction in the world. The Institute provides resident instruction in 23 languages to approximately 3,500 military service members, five days a week, seven hours per day, with two to three hours of homework each night. Generally, students spend between 26 and 64 weeks at the Presidio, depending on the difficulty of the language.
Posted Date: 8 October 2015