07/28/2014, 00.00
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Talks resume between North and South over Big Dictionary of the Korean People's Language

The project was started in 2005 because of the growing cultural gap between the two sides of the border. The South has adopted international terms which never arrived in the North, and the difference of the– pre-existing - dialects has become more radical. The goal, says Seoul, is "to preserve the cultural heritage Korean language and overcome distances”.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The governments of the two Koreas have agreed to resume the project of the Big Dictionary of the Korean People's Language, a common text that aims to preserve the national language and to reduce the cultural distance between the two countries , divided since the end of the 1950-1953 Civil War. The work will start again tomorrow in the Chinese city of Xinyang and will continue until August 6. The project was approved by the Unification Ministry in Seoul.  

The South Korean delegation is composed of 32 linguists, while there are no details on the Norths' delegation. Park Soo-jin, deputy spokesman of the ministry, said the Seoul government "has continually allowed purely social and cultural exchanges (with North Korea) in the non-political sector. Seoul decided to approve the meeting plan in consideration of the significance of the joint dictionary project in preserving Korea's cultural asset and bridging the language gap between the two Koreas".

The project was launched in 2005 but was halted on various occasion because of military tensions which, regularly, block relations between the two governments. The North's military provocations and its nuclear program led to a "total blockade" of relations that lasted from 2012 to the beginning of 2014. Now there are signs that Pyongyang is planning to re-start "non-political" exchanges, also in view of the incessant need of humanitarian aid from the international community.

Officially, both sides speak the same Korean language, but the gap between their daily used words has grown over the past decades not only because of difference in local dialects but also due to an influx of foreign languages into the South. The North, on the other hand, has remained largely isolated and maintained the use of so-called "pure" Korean words.

A practical example of this is found in terms relating to football, one of the few sports broadcast on the North's national television with the help of South Korea.  In South Korea For instance, South Koreans use the word "goalkeeper" in football, whereas North Koreans say "munjigi," a pure Korean word that literally means "gatekeeper."


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