Sunday, January 17, 2010

Korean Team Wins World Championship in Texting 축하해요!

The team of Yeong-ho Bae, 18 and Mok-min Ha, 17 defeated a host of challengers to become the world texting champions at the LG Mobile World Cup in New York City.  According to PR Newswire, they split $100,000 in prize money after beating out 24 participants from twelve other countries in an intense five game series.
I read this news with great interest, and found the detail I was looking for in another account of the LG Mobile World Cup.  All contestants texted in their native language using two of LG's current mobile phones: the LG BL20, which has a numeric keypad and the LG GW520, which features a QWERTY keyboard.
Anyone who has visited Korea recently has had an opportunity to observe the speed with which Korean young people text on their mobile phones, so the results of this competition did not surprise me.  However, the results also confirmed my suspicion that the Korean team had a secret weapon:  hangul, the phonetic and very scientific Korean alphabet that is used on Korean-language keyboards.  I believe that any team texting or inputting data in hangul, while other teams are using English or other alphabets will probably come out on top.  It also seems that such competitions must handicap those competitors who are texting in Chinese, Japanese or other non-alphabetic languages.
Some international observers still make the mistake of confusing the Korean alphabet, hangul, with other Asian languages, such as Chinese, that use pictographic scripts.  If it accomplished nothing else, the LG Mobile World Cup should help to clarify that misconception!  So to the Korean team:  축하해요!

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