Posted by: felishkulitz | April 10, 2010


Hunmin Jeongeum Eonhae. The original Hunmin Je...
Image via Wikipedia

Awhile ago, I posted about the Han Chinese characters which list seems to be endless with so many forms and style. Now, I will share you, guys, about another form of Han writing. But this time, it is the Korean (or Han which probably was a coincidence) alphabet or better yet a syllabary.

Ancient Koreans borrow the sophisticated writing system from their Chinese neighbor.  They called it Hanja which is the exact counterpart of Mandarin‘s hanzi or what we know in English as the Han characters. They even imitated the Chinese pronunciations of the said characters. Thus, a similarity between hanja and hanzi is apparent.

It was not until the fourth Joseon king, Sejong the great, that hangeul was invented. It was said that the king himself invented it. This claim was written as “This month, his majesty has personally created the twenty eight letters of the vernacular script…” This event was revolutionary indeed that some were happy with its invention and some are not.

On one account, a scholar official criticized hangeul and said that while the invention is heaven sent, only the barbarians have their own alphabet and with the state principle of “respecting the senior state” (which refers to the middle kingdomMing dynasty China at that time), Han characters must retain its position as the official writing system of the kingdom.

The hall of worthies during the time of king Sejong the great published several books completely written with the new letters. However, when the king died, this invented beauties was banned. Still, even when it was banned, the women of the royal court patronized this as a means for them to exchange letters. The nineteenth century came and Korea has preserved some of the court women’s literature now valued for their own artistic style. Then, the twentieth century arrived and finally hangeul was recognized by its people and until today is still used.

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