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How North Korea Made its English-Korean Dictionary

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Chapter Summary

A significant number of the refined words entered into North Korean English-Korean dictionaries as well. Traditionally, the most important foreign language in North Korea was not English but Russian. A small Russian-Korean dictionary appeared as early as 1948, and Russian was adopted by Kim II Sung University, the most prestigious university in the country, as the compulsory foreign language exam in place of English. North Korea predominantly imported advanced science and technology from Russia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, English rapidly replaced Russian on the North Korean foreign language scene. The first North Korean English-Korean dictionary (Yŏngjo sajŏn) appeared in 1961. It was small in size and was followed by a medium size volume with the same title. The Yŏngjo taesajŏn (the 'Grand English-Korean Dictionary'), the first unabridged English-Korean dictionary in North Korea, was published in 1992.

Keywords: English-Korean dictionary; foreign language exam; Kim Il Sung University; North Korea; Russian; Soviet Union



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