This is Nuri Park from Peace Winds Korea.
This week, we're excited to share the story of the "South-North Sign Language Travel Book" with our valuable donors!
This book was recently awarded the grand prize in the 2021 Peace Open Lab project sponsored by Peace Winds Korea. The book offers explanations of North Korea's major tourist attractions in South Korean sign language. It also includes video conversations in North Korea's sign language accessible via QR codes.
1. Can you explain the reason behind creating the "South-North Sign Language Travel Book"?
I created the book because i realized there were no travel books for the deaf. I was inspired by a German deaf traveler's stories about North Korea. This sparked my interest in the differences between North and South sign languages. The book aims to reduce these differences, promote reunification, and make travel easier for the deaf.
2. Can you tell us more about the differences between South and North Korean sign languages?
Despite sharing cultures, South and North Korean sign languages have significant differences, making communication without an interpreter impossible. For example, the signs for 'understand' and 'peanut' are different in each language. Experts estimate that the two sign languages only match about 13-29%, compared to 60-70% for South Korean and Japanese sign languages.
3. How do you gather information about North Korean sign language?
We obtain information through various means, including research from the Kyeore Mal Dictionary, as well as gathering stories from foreign deaf individuals who have experience with North Korea.
4. What changes might occur in South and North Korean sign languages if unification happens?
Both South and North Korean sign languages have unique strengths. North Korean sign language places emphasis on political and military terminology, while South Korean sign language has a broader vocabulary. On the other hand, North Korean sign language may be more efficient in certain areas. For example, North Korean sign language has a specific sign for "embassy," while South Korean sign language does not. Combining the strengths of both sign languages could lead to the development of a unified sign language after reunification, better serving the needs of the deaf community.
5. Can you explain the current plans and status of the "South-North Sign Language Travel Conversation Book" project?
We've completed 45% of the book project, with tourist attraction information converted into accessible language and North Korean Sign Language illustrations 80% done. However, obtaining visuals to accompany content requires significant budget allocation. We aim to publish the book in the second half of the year, supported by GlobalGiving and other organizations.
6. Finally, what are your expectations after it is published?
While the plan to invite North Korean deaf people to the WFD Congress in July fell through, we still hope to make it happen in the future to foster cultural exchange and bring the deaf communities of South and North Korea closer together. Despite travel restrictions, supporting this project is meaningful, and we hope it can promote cultural integration for both deaf and hearing individuals. We also aim to translate our travel guide book for deaf individuals into various languages to assist those interested in North Korea and increase understanding of its culture.
Thank you for reading!