Following my earlier post about Hangul Day, or Korean Alphabet Day, I was reading further about the alphabet.

The Koreans have immense pride in their alphabet, and are keen to share it. One woman also thinks Hangul’s use can be extended outside of Korea. The Hunminjeongeum Research Institute was founded by Lee Ki-nam in 2007, and aims to apply Hangul to native languages which are becoming extinct due to a lack of their own writing system. Currently, the Institute has a memorandum of understanding with the city of Bau-Bau of southwestern Indonesia to use Hangul, and it is being used by the Cia-Cia tribe to transcribe their language.

There are some issues surrounding the project however:

In Indonesia, where the government is encouraging its 240 million people to learn a “language of unity,” Bahasa Indonesia, for effective communication among a vast array of ethnic groups, Ms. Lee’s project raises delicate issues.

“If this is a kind of hobby, that’s fine,” Nicholas T. Dammen, the Indonesian ambassador to South Korea, said recently, referring to the decision by the Cia-Cia ethnic minority to adopt Hangul. “But they don’t need to import the Hangul characters. They can always write their local languages in the Roman characters.”

Shin Eun-hyang, an official at the Korean language division of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Seoul, said: “This is diplomatically sensitive. The government is limited in how much direct support it can provide to such projects.”
The government says it does not provide money to Ms. Lee’s group, but she said it offered indirect support by giving linguists grants to pursue their work, which can include teaching Hangul abroad. (Source: New York Times)

Read more about the Cia-Cia project, and the full article from the New York Times. What do you think? Is it appropriate to apply the Korean alphabet to completely different languages?