Google to Promote ‘Hangeul’

October 30, 2013
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, right, poses with Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yoo Jin-ryong after the Internet giant signed an agreement with the government, Wednesday, to help the country promote “hangeul,” the Korean alphabet. / Yonhap

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, right, poses with Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yoo Jin-ryong after the Internet giant signed an agreement with the government, Wednesday, to help the country promote “hangeul,” the Korean alphabet. (Yonhap)

By Kim Yoo-chul

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that he will join Korea’s efforts to globally promote its indigenous writing system, “Hangeul.”

Schmidt said he will closely cooperate with the Korean government to raise global awareness of Korea’s cultural heritage. “Korea is advanced in digital technologies and I think that’s due to the creation of Hangeul.  Korea is the country that is using its own alphabet, independently in Asia,” Schmidt said in a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday.

Google agreed with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to jointly run educational facilities for children to promote the Korean alphabet, learning centers for foreigners and ethnic Koreans and to support those developing Hangeul software. Under the agreement, Google will also promote the Korean culture wave via its online center ― www.google.com/culturalinstitute.

Schmidt said the search giant will play a role as a cultural ambassador to Korea to expand Korean culture from K-Pop to traditional costumes. Google said it will also expand ties with a set of Korean culture-related institutes, including the Korea Database Agency.

“King Sejong invented the language at a time when the country was divided between the upper class and normal people and I believe it was a very important decision in history. The King wanted to make it easier for people in Korea to exchange information, six hundred years ago,” Schmidt said. The executive stressed PSY’s Gangnam Style has significantly helped in elevating Korea’s culture and its profile in general. Schmidt added that Google’s online websites will pave the way for the propagation of Hallyu.Google previously established a K-pop channel on its video website YouTube and also featured several live music concerts.

South Korean pop music has secured hordes of fans in Asia, Europe and the Americas in recent years. Google is currently leading the race for mobile software thanks to heavy support from Samsung and LG Electronics for its open-based Android platform. The world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer Samsung is the representative of the so-called “Google Android Alliance. ”The two firms are sharing confidential data for the development of futuristic devices such as “Google Glass.”

Google is playing an advisory role for Samsung over the latter’s billions of dollars in patent disputes with Apple. “By promoting Korea-related culture content, Google intends to create new business opportunities. The success of the Gangnam Style impressed top Google executives. Google thinks some Korean contents are quite competitive in terms of businesses. The support of the national heritage also matches up with the government’s initiatives for ‘creative economy’,” said an official at the ministry.

“The announced plans are seemingly looking attractive. But it will take more time whether or not the initiatives will fully pay off,” said the official, adding Google has so far been passive in carrying out real investments in Korea.

Schmidt will hold a special lecture for undergraduates at the Seoul National University in Seoul, Thursday. He may also have working-level discussions with Samsung executives, though Google Korea spokeswoman Lois Kim declined to talk about details of Schmidt’s trip to Korea.

“Just a few months ago, Google CEO Larry Page visited the headquarters of Samsung and display panel plant at Samsung Display to strengthen partnership in components. At that time, Page met Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jay-yong. The main purpose of this visit by Schmidt is aimed at boosting Korean culture,” according to an official at one of Google’s local partners.

Samsung’s Chief Communications Officer Rhee In-yong told reporters, “I have no idea whether a meeting between Schmidt and the vice chairman Lee has been arranged.”

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