Los Angeles



[Student Reporters]English Unites the Two Koreas

[LA중앙일보] 발행 2010/05/10 교육 11면 기사입력 2010/05/09 07:44

Tongsup Park / 10th, Northern Valley Regional High School

"ABCDEFGHIJKLMN..." It is a Saturday noon and the sound of the alphabet song echoes throughout the walls of the Saejowi building located in Jonglo-gu South Korea. Inside four high school students and ten adults are huddled into groups at different tables. For the adults it is practically their first time seeing the English language. They are North Koreans who successfully fled to South Korea to escape the terrible living conditions in North Korea. The high school students are from Daewon Foreign Language High School one of the most prestigious high schools in South Korea. They are highly proficient in English and have volunteered their time to teach the language to the North Koreans.

Hyunah Jin Tongsup Park Sanghyun Kim and Juwon Hong have been looking for a volunteer service when they learned about Saejowi The Organization for One Korea. Saejowi is a non-governmental organization founded in 1988 with the purpose of uniting the two Koreas. The organization's major achievements include founding The Center of Rehabilitation for North Koreans in South Korea and the Saejowi Call Center. The four students offered to teach English to North Koreans and Saejowi accepted.

"I'm just glad that there is something I can offer to these North Korean people who haven't had the opportunity we had to learn the most widely used language in the world" says Hyunah Jin one of the four students from Daewon Foregin Language High School who stepped forward for the English-teaching volunteer service "I mean they are practically our own people."

"It's not like we're the master of the English language" says Sanghyun Kim "but these North Koreans have seen the English language for the first time in their lives and we're good enough to teach them the very basic rules of the language."

However there were times when the teaching did not go as smoothly as the students wanted. Sometimes the differences between the South Korean language and the North Korean language led to misunderstandings. When Sanghyun Kim tried to teach the North Koreans the word "movie" they did not understand because the South Korean word for "movie" and the North Korean word differed.

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