• 프린트
  • 메일
  • 스크랩
  • 목록
  • 글자크기
  • 크게
  • 작게

360. Welcome to the World, Hangul!

- Korea Celebrates the 569th Birthday of Hangul -

Jang, Su-jeong 기자2015.11.24 20:47:36

           Hangul Proclamation Day (Hangul Day) is observed in South Korea every year on October 9th. In fact, Korea is the only country with a day that celebrates the invention and proclamation of its own alphabet. This is because Hangul is the only written language which has information about the initiator, the principles of its creation, and its ideologies listed in historical records (Hunminjeongeum Haerye[1]). Hangul Day, which has a history of 90 years, is one of the five representative national holidays in Korea.

 

The History of Hangul and Hangul Day

           Before Hangul was invented, Chinese characters were used in written documents. However, this was very difficult for Koreans because the Korean language was fundamentally different from Chinese. Most common people could not read or write them at that time. King Sejong the Great in the era of the Chosun Dynasty got some help from scholars and began to develop a new writing system. At last, Hunminjeongeum[2] was invented in 1443, and disseminated in 1446. This shows that he wanted many people to communicate via text and benefit by reading and writing Hangul with ease.

           Immediately after the invention of Hangul, its application was limited because the ruling class were reluctant to use it, thinking China was the cultural center of the world. Consequently, King Sejong had to be extremely discreet about his grand literacy project, resulting in very little documentation during the initial stages of the project. Since there was little documentation, historians had initially concluded "the birthday of Hangul" to be around October 29, 1446. However, with the discovery of Hunminjeongeum Haerye, historians placed the date of Hangul’s publication closer to the current Hangul Day. Therefore, various events for Koreans as well as foreigners are held all around Korea on October 9th every year, informing many people that Hangul has its own originality and practicality.

 

The Ingenious and Scientific Writing System, Hangul

           Each alphabet is proper for the expression of its own language. There is no perfect written language in the world, but Hangul is generally acknowledged to be an ingenious and scientific writing system. The reason for this can be largely classified into two categories. First, Hangul has a thorough explanation of the logic behind each stroke of its characters. Its letters are composed of a combination of lines and circles only. Its three main vowels (, , ) represent the sky, the earth, and man. The shape of its consonants are derived from that of the mouth, lips, and tongue when they make the sound, so that a '' is the shape of the tongue as it forms a ‘g’ sound. Second, Hangul is easy to learn, which has contributed greatly to reducing the illiteracy rate. This is because Hangul can be put together with 10 vowels and 14 consonants, which makes more than 11,000 different kinds of sounds. In addition, the characters that have a similar sound resemble their shape. For example, aspirated sounds such as '', '', '', and ‘’ were created by adding a horizontal stroke to existing consonants; they were aspirated derivatives of '', '', '', and '' respectively.

 

Hangul and Korean Language around the World

           As the international status of South Korea has risen, more and more foreigners want to learn the Korean language. Furthermore, the number of foreigners who can write Hangul is increasing. The Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) is a test for foreigners and Koreans who live overseas and do not speak Korean as their first language. At the first test in 1997, the number of candidates was to 2,692. In 2014, the number had increased dramatically to 208,448. In addition, the South Korean Government has launched Sejong Hakdang (the King Sejong Institute) overseas since 2011 in order to provide education about the Korean language and culture for foreigners who want to learn it. Now, there are 138 institutes in 55 countries throughout the world.

 

           Hangul has undergone hardships for a long time. It was officially approved as the Korean alphabet after 450 years of dissemination. One of the reasons why Hangul Day is a public holiday is to help people remember that Koreans can write the Korean language with their own letters, and contribute to the development and promotion of Hangul. Korea celebrated the 569th Birthday of Hangul this year, so let us remember the value of Hangul and continue to appreciate it in the future.



[1]Hunmin jeong-eum Haerye is also called the Haerye Edition of Hunminjeongeum or simply The Haerye. It is South Korean National Treasure number 70 and has been on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register since October 1997.

[2] Initially, the Korean alphabet was called Hunmin jeong-eum, which translates to “the proper sounds for instructing the people”.

  • 이 기사를 공유해보세요  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •    
  • 맨 위로