massive Korean dictionary of Chinese characters nears completion

The final volumes in what is being touted as the world’s largest Chinese character dictionary are scheduled to be published in May.

The fifteen-volume work (excluding the index) will reportedly cover some 60,000 Chinese characters and include about 500,000 Sinitic words. By comparison, the Zhongwen da cidian (中文大辭典 / Zhōngwén dà cídiǎn), published in Taiwan in the 1960s covers 49,905 Chinese characters.

The project was initiated by the Institute of Oriental Studies of Dankook University, South Korea, in 1978.

The first volume of the 『漢韓大辭典 』 (in Mandarin: Hàn-Hán dà cídiǎn; “Dictionary of Chinese characters Korean use,” as it is translated on the institute’s Web site) was issued in 1999. Last year, volumes 10-12 were published.

The project has reportedly cost more than W20 billion (US$21.3 million).

Yet more work may still be needed.

Prof. Kim Eon-jong of the Department of Korean Literature in Classical Chinese at Korea University said, “This project has great significance from the standpoint of cultural history. But it’s a pity that the institute hastened the final stage. It must complement and supplement the dictionary later.”


4 thoughts on “massive Korean dictionary of Chinese characters nears completion

  1. Even assuming a few billion for overhead, that’s really a staggering per-character figure. I wonder if it’s just everyone’s salary added up, or if they laid down some serious dead kings to get hold of rare materials.

  2. They’re saying that now it’s done … except for the publishing of sixteen volumes, that is. And the digitalization, that’s going to take another ten years.

    As for the cost: “A total of W31 billion (US$1=W1,189) was invested, including W28.5 billion of the university’s own money and W2.52 billion of state grants, employing a daily average of 25 specialists.” So that’s more than US$26 million.

    source: World’s Biggest Chinese Dictionary Completed,, October 2, 2008

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