New book on 808 Chinese characters released

A new book on 808 commonly used Chinese characters in China, Japan and South Korea was released during the tenth session of the Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum held in Seoul on Monday, marking one of the most important achievements of the forum in its 10-year-history.

During the launching ceremony of the new book, the mega droplight made by 808 Chinese calligraphy works caught the attention of all the people attending the forum.

Lee O-young, South Korea's former Minister of Culture said the organizing committee of the forum invited 808 Korean calligraphers to finish the decoration, with each of them writing one character from the 808 commonly used Chinese characters.

Lee said that the reason why the forum could be held in 10 consecutive years even in difficult times is the three countries' shared culture. By promoting the application of the 808 characters like naming children, enterprises and road signs, Lee said the three countries could further enhance communication and lift barriers in other areas.

Atsuko Toyama, Japan's former Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture said the release of the book is a milestone and we should see it as a starting point in promoting the development of the three countries in all areas in the coming decade.

After the book's launching ceremony, all three leaders of the delegations, namely Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo wrote calligraphies on scrolls using the common Chinese characters, in a gesture to show their expectations that the new book would further enhance cultural ties of the three countries while lifting communication barriers.

The idea of making a chart of the collectively used Chinese characters was proposed by a Chinese delegate in the 2005 forum and was welcomed by the Japanese and South Korean sides. It took the concerned parties of the three countries nearly 6 years of deliberations to prepare the list, make the draft and finally make it into a book form.

During the group discussions in the afternoon, Zhang Xinsheng, president of China Education Association for International Exchange, said that the three countries should promote the establishment of the China-Japan-South Korea union university, involving the 808 characters into the curriculum so as to promote their application.

The Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum, co-sponsored by China's Xinhua News Agency, Japan's Nikkei news group and South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo, aims to strengthen non-governmental exchanges among the three neighboring countries.

The annual event has been held alternately in the three countries since 2006.

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