Korean Sign Language Training Courses

Establishing a communication bridge between deaf and hearing people in North Korea through sign language

As any other Sign Language, the (North) Korean Sign Language is a complete languagewith its own grammar and lexicon. It is the mother tongue of the Korean deaf population and also exists in various dialects.

Different from learning to speak and write a foreign language, learning sign language from a book is much more difficult since it is a 3-dimensional and language and consists of 5 specific linguistic components, namely: 1. lip image, 2. facial expression, 2. hand shape, 3. orientation and 4. movement of the hands, arms or body, and 5. localisation of the hands. These basic components of sign language cannot be properly described in a book. The real success in learning KSL comes with a teacher in a Sign Language Course.

A new profession emerges: Korean sign language interpreter

TOGETHER-Hamhung and the Korean Federation for Protection of the Disabled (KFPD) have jointly elaborated a series of KSL courses to improve the communication between deaf and hearing. The KSL courses should be taught nationwide and be a mile stone on the way to the foundation of a national association of deaf people in the DPRK: And in fact, the Deaf Association of Korea (DAK) was founded in the following year.

Thanks to the financial support from the UK-Embassy to the DPRK, the first two sign language courses were held at the  Culture House of the KFPD in Taedonggang from January till March 2011: Two teachers of the School for Deaf in Songchon explained the basic theory and linguistic structure of KSL and taught 1000 Words and 300 sentences for the daily life.

Some of the participants were deaf, some hearing. The interest of hearing Koreans in becoming a fully professional sign language interpreters has much increased. Three more courses were planned for summer and autumn 2011.

Closing Ceremony of the first two KSL courses

The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the DRK Korea was invited to the closing ceremony of the first two KSL courses and he took the floor to express his pleasure about the successful implementation of the project. He encouraged KFPD to continue this good project and announced that he would like to keep his Embassy involved in it.

The first two Korean sign language training courses have built and fixed the communication bridge between deaf and hearing people. They also promoted the understanding and respect for the language and deaf community in the DPRK.

The next KSL courses were taught in the three provinces of South Pyongan, North Hwanghae and South Hamgyong between September and November 2011. Three deaf students from Pyongyang who were trained in the second group of the first two sign language courses participated in these upcoming three courses as deaf KSL assistants.

With gratitude for the support of the British Embassy to the deaf community in the DPRK!

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