Infected Korean Language, Purity versus Hybridity: From the Sinographic Cosmopolis to Japanese Colonialism to Global English

by Koh Jongsok and Ross King

About Jongsok Koh

Jongsok Koh is a well-known South Korean essayist, novelist, critic and public intellectual. After earning his BA in 1983 from Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul in Law, he went on to earn an MA in Linguistics from Seoul National University in 1986. He then worked briefly for some years as a journalist, but in 1992 he went to Paris to pursue a PhD in Linguistics at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. That particular project was cut short by the eruption of the IMF financial crisis in Korea, and he returned to Seoul in 1997 (sans PhD). Subsequently he worked as a columnist for the Han’guk Ilbo (Korea Times) until 2005, and as a freelance writer until 2013, when he announced his retirement as a professional writer. Though highly regarded as a writer of creative fiction, Koh is also the leading exponent of ono pip’yong or ‘language criticism’, a unique form of critique, in Korea.

About Ross King

Ross King is Professor of Korean studies and Head of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. He earned his BA in Linguistics (Japanese and Korean) from Yale and his PhD in Linguistics from Harvard University. Dr. King’s research focus is on the history of language, writing and literary culture in the Sinographic cultural sphere, with a specific focus on medieval Korea and the interplay of cosmopolitan and vernacular in other regions of the Sinographic cosmopolis. He is the coauthor of Elementary Korean and Continuing Korean, a popular textbook series for the teaching of Korean as a foreign language, as well as of the extensive web teaching and learning resources for Chinese, Japanese and Korean developed by UBC Asian Studies. Dr. King has also pioneered the study of the history and language of the ethnic Korean minority in the former Soviet Union. Professor King founded Sup sogui Hosu, the Korean Language Village at Concordia Language Villages, in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1999. He continues to serve as Dean Emeritus and Senior Advisor of the Village in the summers.


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