The first attempt at spelling reform in South Korea took place in the early 1950s as the Korean War (1950-53) drew to a close. The subsequent Han 'gǔl Crisis is often interpreted as an example of the authoritarianism of President Syngman Rhee (Yi Sǔngman), yet the event also represents a clash of generations between the supporters of the Unified Orthography of 1933 and the previous spelling standard. During the han'gǔl simplification debates, the legacies of Chu Sigyǒng (1876-1914) and Pak Sǔngbin (1880-1943) reemerged as their followers continued a contentious linguistic debate that stretched back into the colonial period. The event ended as a victory for the Unified Orthography of 1933, but several ambiguous questions remain for further investigation. Ultimately, behind the claims of "scientific rationalism " in the current han'gǔl spelling are the forgotten memories of linguistic activism and the difficulties in uniting divergent linguistic practices in post-Liberation Korean society.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by an Academy of Korean Studies grant funded by the Korean government (MEST) (AKS-2012–DZZ-3103).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences(all)