Adoption of Hangeul by Indonesian Tribe Hits Snag

The adoption of Hangeul by the Cia-Cia tribe of Indonesia's Buton Island has hit a snag after the city of Bau-Bau has decided to sever its ties with the Hunminjeongeum Society, which was to have assisted the process. The mayor of Bau-Bau in an official letter to the Seoul Metropolitan Government in March said it was severing the relationship because there has been no cooperation for the last year.

This was apparently the result of different expectations and misunderstandings over how Hangeul was to be introduced, and complicated local administrative matters in Bau-Bau. The Hunminjeongeum Society claimed Bau-Bau city, which is in charge of administering the overall procedure of the adoption of Hangeul, is relying entirely on the Seoul Metropolitan Government, rather than the Society.

Just before Hangeul was about to be adopted as the official script at the end of 2009, Bau-Bau Mayor Amirul Tamim and his delegation received a warm welcome from then-Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. The two parties signed a letter of intent to expand cultural exchanges.

At the time, the Seoul Metropolitan Government expressed willingness to cooperate on urban development projects such as a cultural center in Bau-Bau, but the plan was aborted due to budget problems. But the city of Bau-Bau has since then thought of Seoul, rather than the Hunminjeongeum Society, as its partner because it expected to get more support that way. It now insists on teachers sent by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government in a statement on Sunday said it would be "inappropriate" for it to give direct support to Bau-Bau since it is not an educational establishment.

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 10, 2011 13:13 KST