Chinese views on South Korea’s love-hate relationship with Chinese characters – China society and culture news from May 1, 2017

Society & Culture

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This shouldn’t be a surprise — a two-minute video, produced by the Chinese newspaper and website Cankao Xiaoxi 参考消息, which discusses South Korea’s mixed feelings about Chinese characters, created much buzz on the Chinese social media platform Weibo over the weekend, fueling the anti-South Korea fire on the Chinese internet.

The video begins with the voice-over saying, “South Korea has been deeply influenced by Chinese culture since ancient times,” and “Chinese characters used to be mainstream texts in South Korea.” Yet after World War II, the rise of nationalism in South Korea resulted in the widespread rejection of Chinese characters. In 1970, South Korean President Park Chung-hee even banned Chinese characters from being taught in schools or used in official documents. Recently, however, as studies show that South Korean vocabularies have shrunk significantly, support for a revival of Chinese characters in the country is on the rise.

On Weibo, many Chinese internet users found pride in South Korea’s shifting attitude toward Chinese characters, while of course making fun of the neighbor’s lack of cultural legacies. “The existence of Chinese characters clearly reveals who is superior,” one commenter wrote. “Do you guys really think this is good news for China? Given its conduct in the past, South Korea will very likely claim that it invented Chinese characters,” another commenter wrote, referring to the long-existing battle between South Korea and China on the ownership of various cultural heritages.