Billboard in Mixed Hanja-Hangul Script in Korea Town, New York City

Pres Elect

This is slightly old news (dated December 23, 2012), but a Korean-American businessman, who immigrated to the United States in 1984, has posted a billboard using mixed Hangul-Hanja script (竝用, 병용) congratulating Park Geunhye on her victory in the most recent Korean election at the entrance of New York City’s Korea Town. The mixed script part of the billboard reads:

大韓民國 第18代 大統領 朴槿惠(박근혜) 후보의 被選을 祝賀합니다

Congratulations to presidential candidate Park Geunhye on being elected in the 18th Election of the Republic of Korea

When asked why he put up the sign in mixed script, the Korean-American businessman replied, “As you may know, Hanja characters are ideograms with meanings to themselves. I intended to correct the common mistaken belief that Hanja is Chinese: these are our characters that our ancestors cultivated together with Hangul.” He also noted that there are a lot of Chinese and Japanese people are other Asians that cross this area, and that he wanted to let them know that Hanja, together with Hangul, is a precious cultural heritage of the Korean people.

Source: 뉴욕 한복판 박근혜 당선인 축하광고 눈길

    • 歸源 said:

      Even when mixed script writing was more common, certain words were not written in Hanja.

  1. E. Ge said:

    Hanja is “cultivated” by koreans, what does that mean?

    • 歸源 said:

      I think you’re misinterpreting. I don’t think he’s part of the group that claims the origins of Hanja as Korean (neither am I). He merely expresses that it has been used by Koreans as well, so much so that it has become part of the Korean patrimony. There’s a general notion among Koreans of the young generation that Hanja is foreign, and therefore ought to be not used — although they seemingly have no problem in using English words in Korean. This is a notion that he rightly contests.

  2. E. Ge said:

    Well explained. But I did not misinterpret. The original statement taken as whole certainly did not convey the message in your post: he was proclaiming to other Asians, not educating young Koreans.

    • 歸源 said:

      I don’t know why you’re being hostile. A good portion of my subscribers are of Chinese descent. I know there’s a certain very small crazy segment of the Korean population that make absurd claims asserting that Hanja and Confucius are Korean, but I doubt the person in the article is making such claims. If you’d read other posts on this blog, it would be abundantly clear that I take no such position. I’ve explained and made clear in several posts that certain foods, customs, etc. associated with Korean culture as having Chinese origin. Unlike most Koreans, I’m not insecure about admitting this.

  3. Joe Chang said:

    Thank you for your post!

    I’ve always wondered how do people decide for which words do they write in Hanja and which in Hangul. It seems like each author takes a different approach, and I fail to see a pattern. Even in the constitution and in laws, sometimes a word would be (seemingly arbitrarily) written in Hangul, when surrounding words are in Hanja.

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