Korean “Standard Sign Language” Is Not a Sign Language

Volume 2
Issue 2
Jong Sup Jun
In 1991, the department of education of Korea published the official Korean Standard Sign Language (KSDSL; S-K Kim et al. 1991). The biggest problem of KSDSL is that it is not a sign language, but a manually coded spoken Korean. In this paper, I criticize both theoretical and practical problems of KSDSL. From a theoretical perspective, KSDSL is founded upon such linguistically untenable assumptions that a natural language cannot have grammar, that a natural language is a language in the ideal world, and that descriptive evaluation of a natural language can be done by non-native language users. From a practical perspective, I point out that deaf children learning KSDSL instead of KSL may have problems in their cognitive development. On top of these problems is a more urgent humanitarian need; i.e. deaf people in Korea have a human right to learn and use their native language, namely Korean Sign Language (KSL), in all areas of life. My claim is that we must replace the current Signed Korean with KSL for the real Korean Standard Sign Language.