Renowned scholars and former high-profile politicians from Korea, China, and Japan announced a list of 800 Chinese characters for common use.
The selection of 800 characters, announced on July 8, was led by former Korean Culture Minister Lee Eo-ryeong, the Renmin University of China, and Japan’s Kyoto University. To finalize the list, they narrowed down 800 characters by comparing 2,500 characters commonly used by Chinese with 1,006 characters used in Japanese education and 900 basic characters Koreans learn at school.
Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan have been regarded as Chinese character culture area since they have historically used Chinese characters. Communication difficulties remain, however, as each of them uses different variations, such as simplified or traditional Chinese characters, demanding the need to unify commonly used Chinese characters has been voiced among these countries.
For this reason, a group of experts and former high-ranking officials from Korea, China and Japan felt the need of better communication and gathered to discuss the idea of listing the Chinese characters for common use for the three countries.
Delegations of the three countries announced the proposed list of 800 common Chinese characters at a symposium jointly held by Korea’s Joongang Ibo, China’s Xinhua News Agency, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Japan on July 8 at a Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa, Hokkaido. The forum participants also had a heated discussion on the theme of future-forward cooperation among Korea, China, and Japan. Tripartite cooperative offices of each of the three governments will review the proposed adoption of the Chinese characters.
The forum was attended by an eight-member Korean delegation led by former Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo. A ten-strong Japanese delegation led by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda attended the forum where the Chinese delegation led by former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan was also present.
“If the youths of the three countries become familiar with the 800 Chinese characters, this will set the intellectual foundation to understanding each other’s language to a certain extent,” the JoongAng Ilbo quoted the statement of the forum.
Former Minister Lee Eo-ryeong was quoted as saying by the paper, “The selection of the 800 Chinese characters is the first step to transcending the common values of the three countries to the future, which will serve as the foundation for wisdom in Asia. We will continue to discuss ways to share different types of Chinese characters such as simplified or traditional characters and other related issues.”
The forum will be held in autumn in China later this year to discuss how to utilize the announced Chinese characters.