Lev Rafailovich Kontsevich
By Do Je-hae
To mark Hangeul Day, Seoul will award medals to Korean language experts within and outside Korea.
The culture ministry announced Monday a list of 10 medal recipients. The country celebrates Hangeul Day today.
Receiving the highest honor is Lev Rafailovich Kontsevich, 82, an expert on Korean language and history from Russia. He is a leading researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
The scholar devised the Kontsevich system for the Cyrillization of the Korean language, the main system in use today for producing Russian versions of Korean texts. He translated the “Hunmin Jeongeum” ― ancient document introducing the Korean alphabet, into Russian.
He will receive the Eun-Gwan Order of Culture Merit during a ceremony at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul along with nine other medal recipients.
Professor Kanewaka Toshiyuki from Tokyo Woman's Christian University is the recipient of the Bo-Gwan Order of Culture Merit. The 67-year-old has been a longtime host of a Hangeul program on Japanese broadcaster NHK.
Also on the medal list are scholars who teach in China, the U.S., Uzbekistan, Turkey, France and Kenya.
The awardees will be in Korea for the ceremony and will get a tour of a traditional village in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, before they leave Korea, Thursday.
Hangeul Day ― also called Hangul Proclamation Day or Korean Alphabet Day ― is a national commemorative day marking the creation and the proclamation of Hangeul (한글), the native alphabet of the Korean language, by King Sejong of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).
King Sejong proclaimed the publication of the Hunmin Jeongeum, the document introducing the newly created alphabet, in 1446.