The Linguistic Divide of the Two Koreas
At the end of World War II, when Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, the Korean peninsula was split into two zones of occupation; North and South Korea. Ever since, the two Koreas have developed into two separate worlds, not only politically and ideologically but also linguistically. Over the past seventy years, the Korean language has greatly varied mainly due to opposite political ideologies. South Korea, upon adopting western values and market economy, has coined neologism and loanwords, whereas North Korea, has implemented a stringent linguistic policy that limits the use of foreign words and Chinese characters. The linguistic difference between the two Koreas is a window into the clash of ideologies, cultures, and leadership.
Despite various differences between the two Korean languages, it is still possible to understand one another. However, the lexical and expression gap makes it difficult for many North Korean refugees in South Korea to adjust to society as their accent often makes them victims of discrimination.
In this presentation, I will briefly review the history of the political divide, discuss the causes of the linguistic differences and demonstrate the differences by relating them to political, ideological, and cultural roots. I wish to utilize this as an opportunity in which language lovers, Korean learners and history/ politic fans ponder upon the values of languages, not merely as a tool of communication, but rather, a window into the world.