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Korean Applied Linguistic Conference Promoting Cultural Dialogue

Ambassador Jong Bum-goo champions the conference aiming to enhance communication across cultures

July 26th, 2019
Frankie Fraser, News from Berlin
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South Korean Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Jong Bum-goo was present at the 11th International Science Conference of the International Society of Korean Applied Linguists, held in Berlin between July 18-19.

It was held at the Cultural Centre of the Republic of Korea, which aims to promote all facets of Korean culture across Germany and facilitate cultural exchange between the pair of states. It is the cultural department of the Korean embassy in Berlin, aiming to be a venue of intercultural encounter, exchange and mediation.

The conference covered a wide range of topics, with some focussing explicitly on intercultural relationships, such as ‘A Study on Korean as Cultural Representation Reflected in Western Movies’, to those emphasising the city in which the conference took place, 'Berlin Narrative and Politics of Space’, others looked to way the Korean language operates, ‘A Study on the Implementation of Directive Speech Acts Conveyed in the Statements of Korean Public toilet Signs’ and finally, those which payed attention to the education of the language, including ‘Practice of intercultural viewpoint in Korean language education for overseas Koreans'. As diverse as the topics spoken about, the speakers themselves hailed from around the globe, from China, Germany, Japan, the USA and of course, South Korea.

The study of linguistics is a key aspect of cultural studies, as humans tend to think in their native languages, resulting in disparities between how we communicate and think across cultures. For example, a key notion in Korean culture is ‘Kibun’, which holds no direct translation into English. It has generally been described as equating to pride, mood, face, or state of mind. It permeates across interactions within Korean culture, an equivalent that does not exist in the west. This is merely one, in a host of examples in which the disparities between language results in an inability to discuss across communal lines.

Applied linguistics as a field seeks to find ways and practices to deal with the problem of disparities across languages. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to this complex problem, dealing with cultural differences of societies and how this influences how one communicates. Ambassador Jong Bum-goo praised the work of the conference in focussing on this subject. it is of particular interest to Korea due to the nature of their language, which is described as a ‘Language isolate’, as it has no clear geological relationship with other languages. Effectively, whereas English and German are related and part of the same language family with many similarities, Korea has zero relations. Concerning intercultural diplomacy, applied linguistics provides a perfect supplement to allow the increased interaction across cultural divisions.

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