Since October, the information broad cast in subway trains has included the expression, “Now, the safety door will be opened,” using the Korean word anjeonmun for “safety door” instead of the English word “screen door.” I hope you will agree that anjeonmun sounds more familiar and friendly than “screen door.”
Such a change stems from a suggestion made by a college club of Hangeul lovers. We at Seoul City changed “instructions for the manual opening of screen doors” to “instructions for the emergency use of safety doors” in Korean. We asked the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to do likewise for the subway systems of other metropolises including Busan and Daejeon.
On the occasion of Hangeul Day (October 9), I, as the Seoul Mayor, was greatly honored to be selected as the No. 1 exemplary Hangeul lover as a result of my efforts to replace some of the authoritarian-sounding expressions, Chinese character-based phrases, and foreign terms used in administration with easy-to-understand Korean words. And, since 2008, Seoul City has been operating the Administrative Terms Purification Committee, which is composed entirely of Hangeul experts.
As a part of such efforts, we have replaced nineteen frequently used terms with easy-to-understand or euphoric-sounding expressions, in the belief that this is the start of better communications.
Choosing good words can change your way of thinking about things. Changing your thoughts can also change your life. The effort to use good Korean words is a way of enhancing the splendid culture bequeathed to us by our ancestors.