Korean Script in Mainstream China Media: Kosher at last?

For the first time ever — I’ve been watching such announcements for at least 5 years — official Chinese media has used an indigenous language other than Mandarin to publicize the winners of a major literary prize for writing in a minority language. In this case, the China Writers Association has issued a Chinese press release (檀君文学奖评奖结果揭晓) using Korean to cite the names of the winning titles for the 檀君文学奖 literary prize, a new competition for writing in Korean that will be held every two years hence. It is named after Tangun, the legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom located around present-day Liaoning, Manchuria, and the Korean Peninsula.

In the past, winning titles written in Mongolian or Uyghur, for instance, were announced solely using Chinese characters. This was patently absurd, as many of these books did not even exist in Chinese, and interested readers could not easily use those invented Chinese titles to find the work online or in a bookstore.

There have been some suggestions that this was coming. For instance, the very official Baidu Baike has recently begun using the Uyghur’s Arabic-based script to note the names of some Uyghur artists (see Baidu Encyclopedia First?). Ironically, it refers to such names as “foreign,” but better listed than not, I suppose.

Here’s a partial list of winners (Chinese titles are translations and do not necessarily mean the work has been published in Chinese):


许莲顺 (허련순) for 누가 나비의 집을 보았을가 (谁见过蝴蝶的巢)

Short Story

张正一 (장정일) for 세모의 설레임 (岁暮随想)


李惠善 (리혜선) for  정률성평전 (郑律成评传)

For the full list that includes children’s books, poetry and other categories, see here.

One thought on “Korean Script in Mainstream China Media: Kosher at last?

  1. “Ironically, it refers to such names as “foreign,” but better listed than not, I suppose.”

    Actually, it’s good that they refer to them as “foreign”, because it reveals that, despite the fake front of the Zhonghua Minzu ideology, the Chinese (by which I mean those who subscribe to the preeminence of “Han” culture) in their heart of hearts regard the languages of the ethnic minorities as “foreign”.


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