Korean language contest officials recognize Presidio students

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Photo Credit: Michael Beaton, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs
Photo Credit: Michael Beaton, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs

Korean language contest officials recognize Presidio students

by: Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs | .
U.S. Army | .
published: October 18, 2014

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Participants in the 2014 Hangul Day gathered for an awards and recognition ceremony hosted by the Presidio of Monterey in the Tin Barn Oct. 9. The event was sponsored by the Korean Language Institute of Yonsei University in the Republic of South Korea.

The event recognized students in two categories. The first, an essay or poem-writing contest for foreign nationals, was sponsored by the Yonsei University in Seoul. The second category was a video contest sponsored by the Defense Language Center Foreign Language Center here.

The day is an annual celebration in Korea of the invention of the native alphabet of the Korean language. The language goes back to 1446 when Hangul was invented by King Sejong the Great. The actual date is disputed, so the day is observed Oct. 9 in South Korea and on Jan. 15 in North Korea.

This contest is run every year at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and 2014 marks the 11th year that DLIFLC students have participated as a partnership with the Yonsei University Alumni Association of Southern California.

Prizes are awarded to the top three tiers of students: $300 for the winners, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. In addition to monetary incentives the students are recognized within the school for their participation and performance.

Korean is considered by linguists to be a Category 4 (very difficult) language to learn for its complexity and difficulty to master.

The writing category entries are original poems or short one-to-two page essays on a predetermined topic, such as "happiness."

The second half of the program dealt with an annual video contest, which was unrelated to the writing contest, in which the students created a short video in the target language showcasing the ability to understand and speak Korean as well as being culturally relevant, with finalists selected by a local panel of judges made up of DLIFLC faculty.

This year's award recipients representing DLIFLC were: Seaman Lexus Porter, Airman 1st Class Daniel Krall, Pfc. Brent Faurie, Airman 1st Class Richard Vanoverloop, Staff Sgt. Darren Cohen, Staff Sgt. Richard Rah, Airman 1st Class Taylor Purvis, Capt. Todd Boese, Capt. Harper Foley, Pfc. Ollice Page and Airman 1st Class Tommaso Carli.

"The contests have multiple benefits," said DLIFLC Asian School II Dean Marina Cobb.
"They reward the continuing study of the language, encourage foreign students of Korean to better understand and speak it, promote strong relations between Korean and American service members and provide opportunities for communication and exchange not only between institutions of learning, but between the U.S. and South Korea."

Guest of honor and keynote speaker at the ceremony was former South Korean Ambassador to the United Nations and Research Scholar at Stanford University Sook Kim. In his remarks Kim said he was happy and gratified to be amongst so many young and enthusiastic scholars of the Korean language.

"Any scholar who studies a language -- any language -- without interest in the culture will never be a true master of that language," said Kim. "In Korea, the language and culture are closely intertwined and inseparable."

Also on hand to present the awards was President of the Yonsei University Alumni Association and retired Republic of Korea Army Lt. Gen. Jongkyun Park.

After presenting the writing and poetry awards to Presidio service members Park said that he appreciated the opportunity to visit and learn about the Soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who studied so hard to learn Korean.

"It is with great satisfaction that I see that they stand with us together in so many things," Park said.

The screening of this year's award winning videos, all of which were comedies, was a favorite with the standing-room only crowd in attendance and received sustained laughter and applause which brought the event to an up-beat conclusion.

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