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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

History of Hangeul

Hangeul

Hello Friends 9th of October is celebrated as Hangeul Day in Korea so let's learn the history of Hangeul.

The alphabet itself is thought to have been created by ‘The Hall of Worthies’. This ‘Hall of Worthies’ was made up of a group of scholars who had been selected by King Sejong because of their talents and minds. The project to create this new alphabet was completed late 1443 to early 1444. In 1446, a document called the Hunmin Jeongeum, or ‘The Proper Sounds for the Education of the People’, was published, explaining the designs of the alphabet. This document was published on the 9th October, hence Hangeul day!


Koreans use their own unique alphabet called Hangeul. It is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world and has garnered unanimous praise from language experts for its scientific design and excellence.


Hangeul was created under King Sejong during the Choson Dynasty (1393-1910). in 1446, the first Korean alphabet was proclaimed under the original name Hunmin chong-um, which literally meant "the correct sounds for the instruction of the people."
King Sejong, the creator of Hangul, is considered to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of Korea. Highly respected for his benevolent disposition and diligence, King Sejong was also a passionate scholar whose knowledge and natural talent in all fields of study astounded even the most learned experts.
During his reign, King Sejong always deplored the fact that the common people, ignorant of the complicated Chinese characters that were being used by the educated, were not able to read and write. He understood their frustration in not being able to read or to communicate their thoughts and feelings in written words.  
The Chinese script was used by the intelligentsia of the country, but being of foreign origin, it could not fully express the words and meaning of Korean thoughts and spoken language. Therefore, common people with legitimate complaints had no way of submitting their grievances to the appropriate authorities, other than through oral communication, and they had no way to record for posterity the agricultural wisdom and knowledge they had gained through years of experience.
King Sejong felt great sympathy for the people. As a revolutionary ruler strongly dedicated to national identity and cultural independence, he immediately searched for solutions. What he envisioned was a set of letters that was uniquely Korean and easily learn able  rendering it accessible and usable for the common people.



When first proclaimed by King Sejong, Hunmin chong-um had 28 letters in all, of which only 24 are in use today.
A Korean syllable is divided into three parts: Ch'osong (initial consonant), chungsong (peak vowel), and chongsong (final consonant). This is the basic framework that King Sejong and the Chiphyonjon scholars adhered to when creating the letters. Chongsong was not separately created and was a repetition of the ch'osong. Therefore, Hangeul is the consonants and vowels.Korean script is written from left to right, horizontally, which is another similarity with our own alphabet. The big difference is the fact that Hangeul is written in syllable blocks rather than one letter following another, like in our alphabet system. For example, ‘Hangeul’ in Hangeul is 한글. This is two syllables made up of ‘han’ 한 and ‘gul’ 글, where the first syllable is comprised of ᄒ/h,ᅡ/a and ᄂ/n, and the second is made up of ᄀ/g, ᅳ/eu and ᄅ/l. The chart on the left shows the vowels and consonants and then the combinations in which they can be combined to form syllable blocks.

                              

The Korean language has a well-developed and expansive vocabulary, and therefore, it is very difficult to express fully in foreign letter.
Because of its simplicity and the rather small number of letters, Hangeul is very easy to learn even by children and foreigners.
It is no coincidence that by the time they reach the age of two or three, most Korean children are already capable of expressing their feelings and thoughts, albeit in primitive form. By the time they reach school age, most exhibit mastery of Hangul, which is indeed a rare phenomena throughout the world. This fact clearly attests to the easy learnability and accessibility of the Korean alphabet.
Throughout history, Hangul has been at the root of the Korean culture, helping to preserve its national identity and independence.
Illiteracy is virtually nonexistent in Korea. This is another fact that attests to the easy learn-ability of Hangeul. It is not uncommon for a foreigner to gain a working knowledge of Hangeul after one or two hours of intensive studying. In addition, because of its scientific design, Hangeul lends itself to easy mechanization. In this age of computers many people now are able to incorporate computers into their lives without difficulties, thanks to a large number of programs written in Hangeul.So, if you’re ever in Seoul, don’t forget to pay your respects to the man himself and visit the MASSIVE statue of Sejong the Great, between Cheonggyecheon and King Sejong’s home Gyeongbokgung Palace. The alphabet is even engraved onto it as a reminder of his amazing contributions to the nation. We can even spot the few characters that are no longer in use. So on this Hangeul day, lets all take a moment to remember the brilliance of King Sejong, SEJONG THE GREAT!

    
                           

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