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130765.  Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:51 pm Reply with quote

does anyone know anything quite interesting about Korea?

130772.  Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:01 pm Reply with quote

Well (although this is a very well known fact and isn't strictly what we would call QI) the Korean War never finished. No peace treaty has ever been signed so North and South Korea are still supposedly at war.

Also, Korea is still, technically, just one country, not the 2 countries that you see on maps.

I'm afraid anything more about Korea will have to be gleaned from a textbook or the internet (unless someone here knows anything).

Wiki is always a good place to check of course (although it shouldn't be trusted as a primary source, always look at its cited references).

130930.  Tue Jan 02, 2007 10:42 pm Reply with quote

And as North and south Korea are still at war America is still technically in a stste of emergency.

131805.  Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:32 pm Reply with quote

i totally <3 korea
thats south korea btw
they have great gadgets, great tv, great music and great clothes.
ill add more stuff when i dont have to revise for a chemistry exam okies
wait for me to add more stuff here
lotsa love

141270.  Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:01 pm Reply with quote

Some quite interesting bits

1: Until the early 1980's the ROK (South Korea) had really poor education and literacy rates. Towards the end of the period of "Special Government" (Military Dictatorship established at the behest of the feelthy yankee infidels) it was realised that Korea would never be a true world power with such a poorly educated populace.

A literacy program was introduced (I can't track down the date, but when I was in Korea someone told me it was in 1982) and the literacy rate went from 35% to 95% in 10 years. Everyone under 70 had to learn to read.

One of the results of this is that Korea has some of the biggest bookshops you will ever see. Even more amazing is the fact that the English part of the foreign languages section of one of the bookshops appears to be bigger than Foyles. It's where I bought my collection of Penguin Classics, brand new, for the equivalent of 3.00 apiece.

If you have seen Korean TV you will know why this was necessary.

2: Because movies in Korea are subtitled rather than dubbed, there is no reason to stop talking into your mobile phone when at the pictures. Just as well - because nothing will stop them

3: The most popular pizza in Korea is sweet potato. mashed sweet potato piped in a lattice onto the top of your ham and mushroom. Very much not to this westerner's tastes.

4: Han-geul, the Korean alphabet, was invented and designed in 1443. It is the only language and alphabet ever designed by a committee that has been adopted for common use. Before 1443, Koreans spoke one of the Chinese dialects. Legal documents are often still written in Chinese.

5: On a straw poll I did, the greater percentage of Korean boys between the ages of 7 and 17 want to be professional gamers. Professional gaming is held in baseball stadiums, in front of a full house. The finals are even televised. That's computer games.

All these are from personal observation, talking to English speaking Koreans, and the official Korea Travel Guide.

142818.  Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:19 pm Reply with quote goes.
ill start with the korean alphabet, hangul...

The PHONOECIAN writing system. in use around the Mediterrean area some 4000-5000 years ago, is the ultimate source of all but one modern alphabetic writing system. The Roman, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian, Indian (several distinct alphabets), Thai, and many other scripts, as different as they look from each other today, can all trace their origins back to the Phoenician system. (2) The one alphabetic system that does not have this source is that of KOREAN.
The writing system is about 14,000 times simpler to learn (scientifically speaking!) than Chinese or Japanese.

Right, let's begin with some background.

King Sejong was the 4th King of the Choson Dynasty. In 1446 (dates vary, as do details of the story), scholars of the government office chip'yon'jon, or the Pavilion of the Assembly of Sages, were appointed by the King to invent a new writing system for Korean. Until that time, Chinese characters had been used to represent the sounds of the syllables of spoken Korean (The characters are called hanja, and still sometimes used to this day in print. Learning a basic set of 1800 of them was until recently a compulsory part of the education of all South Koreans, and they still play an important part in place names and personal names).

Writing had for centuries been the province of the educated elites, and this new system (although scorned in early days as writing for 'women and children') was created with the aim of spreading literacy. It was a success -- Korea now has a literacy rate of 97.9 percent, one of the highest in Asia.

A book of instruction for the new writing system was published, called Hunmin Chongum: "The proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People". The script it introduced later became known as 한글 (in the new romanization, hangeul).

If there is sound natural to Heaven and Earth, then there should certainly be writing natural to Heaven and Earth. Thus the men of antiquity relied on sounds and designed characters, thereby to convey the circumstances of the Myriad Things and to register the Way of the Three Germinants, we of later generations cannot change them. However, the winds and soils of the Four Quarters diverge, one from the other and sounds and breaths, following them, are likewise different. Presumably because the outer kingdoms have their sounds but lack characters for them, they have borrowed the characters of Chinese to take care of their needs. This has been like a handle that ill fits the hole; how could they have been applied with out obstructions? -Hunmin Chongum

Besides its simplicity and elegance, one of the most fascinating things about the Korean alphabet is its grounding in the philosophical principles of the time, and its deliberate connections to the physical configurations of the organs of speech.

King Sejong and the scholars of the Chiphyonjon, creators of the Korean alphabet, considered human sounds as being more than mere physical phenomena. They assumed that an invisible yet more powerful principle was the controlling force behind these phenomena. They adhered to the principle that human sounds and all universal phenomena are all based on yin-yang (positive-negative) and ohaeng (the five primary elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth). Hence, they thought it natural that there be a
common link between sounds and the changing of the seasons and between sounds and music.

There are ten vowels (and eleven dipthong vowel combinations) and fourteen consonants (and five doubled consonants) for a total of 40 phonemes. Characters are shaped with symbols (dots and circles, horizontal lines, and vertical lines) that represent the fundamental elements of the cosmology: respectively heaven, earth and humanity. Heaven is a round dot, Earth is a horizontal line and the symbol of mankind is a vertical line. All the vowels in the Korean language are combinations of dots, horizontal and vertical lines. These signs are further balanced into the the opposing energies of yang (bright) sounds and yin (dark) sounds.

Now we'll have a look at the consonants, starting with a little background on the elegant design principles behind them. Recall that the Korean alphabet was consciously designed rather than just having evolved, so linguistic elements and relationships were deliberately built into alphabet. that means that basically the charactors mimic the flow of air through the mouth, which i think is pretty cool.

(If you're not familiar with the linguistic terms above, velars (variations of k and "hard g") are formed when the back of the tongue meets the upper back of the throat. Alveolar consonants (n, d, t, "flap r," l) are formed when the tip of the tongue meets the alveolar ridge, on the roof of the mouth toward the front. Dental consonants (s, sh, j, ch, and similar consonants) involve friction between the tongue and the upper part of the top teeth. Bilabial (p, b, m) means two-lipped; the lips come together and are released. Vowels and glottal consonants (h and 'ng' in modern Korean) are formed in the throat.)

Korean consonants can be arranged into five groups based on depending on how the sound is produced within the mouth. Amazingly (to me, at least), each of these representative consonants is a simplified diagram showing the position of the organs of the mouth in forming those consonants.

also korean letters are usually put into groups of 3 to make words and can be either written horizontally or vertically. thats because a Korean syllable is divided into three parts: Ch'osong (initial consonant), chungsong (peak vowel), and chongsong (final consonant). This is the basic framework that King Sejong and the Chiphyonjon scholars adhered to when created the letters. Chongsong was not separately created and was a repetition of the ch'osong. Therefore, Han-gul is the consonants and vowels. and are the websites i copied a lot of this from, but theres a lot more interesting stuff about it around. i think i read somewhere that the king designed it all by himself and although he employed scribes didnt actually consult them and made up the alphabet by himself.

incidentally king sejong is on the korean 10000 won note :)

hangul is actually really interesting and clever, and i love its simple elegance.

ill write more later

lotsa love

143307.  Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:17 pm Reply with quote

Wow - that is really interesting! Thank you.

143732.  Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:48 pm Reply with quote

Yes indeed, and for me in an unexpected way.

If you're not familiar with the linguistic terms above, velars (variations of k and "hard g") are formed when the back of the tongue meets the upper back of the throat. Alveolar consonants (n, d, t, "flap r," l) are formed when the tip of the tongue meets the alveolar ridge, on the roof of the mouth toward the front. Dental consonants (s, sh, j, ch, and similar consonants) involve friction between the tongue and the upper part of the top teeth. Bilabial (p, b, m) means two-lipped; the lips come together and are released. Vowels and glottal consonants (h and 'ng' in modern Korean) are formed in the throat.)

We were talking about various Australian accents in another thread and I was trying to explain the way natives of the Northern Territory speak (not talking just about Aboriginals here). They use velars to form their 'd's, bringing the tongue forward from the upper back of the throat, whereas most of the rest of us use alveolars. Well, not quite, sort of half way in between.
Good job nobody's watching, as I sit here intoning to persuade myself.

306587.  Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:01 am Reply with quote

Korea is the only country in the world (to my knowledge) to have a holiday for a writing system. October 9 is "Hangul Day", celebrating the Korean alphabet, and until recently it had been a national holiday holiday.

306639.  Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:43 am Reply with quote

I think Korea was the first country to have a holiday to commemorate the alphabet, but it's not the only one.

There's a holiday to commemorate the Cyrillic alphabet in Bulgaria and (from 2007) in Macedonia FYR; it happens on 24 May.

Sadurian Mike
307656.  Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:21 pm Reply with quote

During the Korean War, the WWII-era main battle tanks of WWII's former allies; the USSR and USA, met for the first time, giving a glimpse of what would have happened had the US and Britain carried on to declare war on Russia and push them out of Eastern Europe (as was considered by some Western politicians).

The Soviet T-34/85 initially completely outclassed the light M24 Chaffee tanks of the US forces rushed in from Japan. The US then brought in reinforcements from the US itself, including the late-war version of the M4 Sherman, the M4A3E8 Sherman, and their latest heavy tanks, the M26 Pershing and M46 Patton.

These newer tanks (along with the British Centurion) helped regain the balance of power as far as armour was concerned, but the close nature of the Korean terrain meant that tanks were rarely used in anything more than small groups.

Given the relative performances and numbers of available tanks, the Korean War suggested that the Western Allies would have been hard-pressed to beat the Soviet Union in conventional warfare at that time. Only a cynic would suggest that either Superpower saw the war as a test-bed for their newest weapons.

447036.  Fri Nov 28, 2008 7:21 am Reply with quote

What about the 한글 letters that were omitted? Weren't there also a triangle and some other shapes? How were they pronounced?

Just like in Japan, on St Valentine's day, the boys give the girls gifts. On the 14th of March, 'White Day', the girls give the boys a gift in exchange.
My Korean friends also "celebrated" 'Black Day' with me, on the 14th of April. it's for all the singles and named so because they go out to eat 자장면 (Jajangmyeon), noodles with a black sauce on top.

517267.  Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:00 pm Reply with quote

Colle wrote:
What about the 한글 letters that were omitted? Weren't there also a triangle and some other shapes? How were they pronounced?

There are four letters (three consonants and a vowel) that have been omitted from the modern Korean alphabet. The triangle you mention (ᅀ) roughly corresponded to the English "z" sound. The character ᅌ was a variant of ᆼ originally used for the "ng" sound while ᆼ was originally only used as a null initial character. Eventually, the ᆼ was used for both. The ᇹ was a glottal stop that dropped out of the language.

As for the vowel, it was a raised dot meant to be pronounced halfway between 아 and 어. It shows up on Korean signs when they want a sort of "Ye Olde Whatever" feeling, and is today pronounced like 아, even though it is not regularly used.

542179.  Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:58 am Reply with quote

Ah, thank you for clearing that up. So technically my name could have been written with ᅀ back then. But I've grown accustomed to 수잔 (with a ㅈ) so I don't mind. ^,^x

Ian Dunn
696761.  Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:34 am Reply with quote

North Korea has a comedy show on it's state run TV called It's So Funny, but all the comedy is vetted.

Source: ABC News


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