Tuesday, February 28, 2012

King Sejong The Great, Founder of the Korean Language

A must visit in South Korea

Have you ever wonder how did Korean Language came about?

Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. 

In the 15th century, a national writing system was commissioned by King Sejong the Great, the system being currently called Hangul. Prior to the development of Hangul, Koreans had used Hanja and phonetic systems like Hyangchal, Gugyeol and Idu extensively for over a millennium. However, it was not until the 20th century that Hangul became the dominant national script, given the yangban class's preference of the Hanja system.

The genealogical classification of the Korean language is debated by a number of historical linguists. Most classify it as a language isolate while a few consider it to be in the Altaic language family.

In South Korea, the language is most often called Hangungmal, or more formally, Hangugeo or Gugeo.

Without King Sejong The Great, there would not be Korean language as we know today

You must be wondering who is this King Sejong right?

King Sejong the Great profoundly impacted Korean history with his introduction of hangul, the native phonetic alphabet system for the Korean language.

Before the creation of Hangul, only members of the highest class were literate (hanja was typically used to write Korean by using adapted Chinese characters, while Hanmun was sometimes used to write court documents in classical Chinese). One would have to learn the quite complex hanja characters in order to read and write Korean. Further, despite modifications to the Chinese characters, hanja could prove cumbersome when transcribing the Korean language, due to considerable differences in grammar and sentence order.

As a king, King Sejong was worried that the citizen of his country is illiterate. King Sejong wants the people to know how to read, and to know what is reading. King Sejong presided over the introduction of the 28-letter Korean alphabet, with the explicit goal being that Koreans from all classes would read and write. He also attempted to establish a cultural identity for his people through its unique script. While creating the alphabet,King Sejong encountered opposition of courtiers. First published in 1446, anyone could learn Hangul in a matter of days. Persons previously unfamiliar with Hangul can typically pronounce Korean script accurately after only a few hours study.

Each hangul letter is based on a simplified diagram of the patterns made by the mouth, tongue and teeth when making the sound related to the character. Morphemes are built by writing the characters in syllabic blocks. The blocks of letters are then strung together linearly.

King Sejong The Great

The original script where they use before Korean language was introduced

The reason that King Sejong The Great goes the distance for Korean language;
"My people cannot write characters even though they have hands, and can't read characters even though they have eyes. Joseon needs new characters that are suitable for the people."

The announcement of the Korean language to the people

"King Sejong created Hunmin Jeongeum, but took the time to test its practically by writing the epic Yongbi Eocheonga (Songs of Flying Dragons) in the Korean alphabet, thereby improving the writing system. Then, in 1446, Sejong officially promulgated the Korean alphabet."

Check out some of the original scripture back then

My curiousness to know more about the Korean language then got me stab at the stomach!! arrghhh! hahahah kidding XD

Korean they are really into their language, and their are really proud about it as well...which i think they should =)

King Sejong The Great's statue

Forgotten to take picture with King Sejong, but took some pictures with his warrior instead...ishkkk...oh well, better than nothing

So how do you get there?
It is just right opposite the main entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
You can take a subway;
Gyeongbokgung entry is located 22 Sajik-no, Jongno-gu. The nearest subway station is Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3). Then walk opposite the road then you would see it.


Photos Credit to Ho Wei Zheng &Chong Juin Yu

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