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Linguistic Etiquette, Women's Language, And Moral Panics In North Korean Language Planning Discourse

Ross King, Professor of Korean, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
The November 2013 edition North Korea’s language planning journal ran an article titled “Let us hold fast to the purity of Pyongyang Cultured Language,” urging the eradication of ‘conspicuous elements’ that have recently found their way into the speech of Pyongyang denizens. The primary target of the article is women, and according to the article, “Deliberately flirtatious diction … is a far cry from the elegant spiritual beauty and beautiful moral demeanor of Chosŏn women….” In order to contextualize this article and the questions it raises about (official) language ideology, linguistic purism and gender politics in North Korea, I trace the history of North Korean official language planning discourse on linguistic politeness with specific reference to women’s speech, feminine virtue and questions of communist morality (kongsanjuŭi todŏk), and connect these to recent signs of linguistic Angst and besiegement in North Korean linguistic publications.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015. 04:15 PM


Lathrop East Asia Library, 224


Center for East Asian Studies; Korean Program, Shorenstein APARC




Free and Open to the Public; RSVP requested