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October 9th: Hangul Day (한글날)

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Today, October 9th 2014 marks the 568th year since the creation of the Korean Alphabet, Hangul.

Hangul Day (Korean Alphabet Day) in South Korea, and Choson-gul Day in North Korea, is a national day marking and celebrating the invention and the proclamation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language, by the Joseon monarch, King Sejong the Great. It is celebrated on October 9 in South Korea and on January 15 in North Korea.

During the Joseon dynasty, the Korean language was written using Chinese characters. So, in 1443, King Sejong decided to create a language that could be written, spoken and easily learned by the common people, who were illiterate in hanja. Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters and refers to Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language. Hunmin Jeongeum (훈민정음), a document showing the newly created alphabet called, in those times, Hunmin Jeongeum was officially released to the public in 1446.

1000px-Hunmin_Jeongeum.svgIn 1940, it was revealed that the Hunmin Jeongeum was announced during the first ten days of the ninth month of the lunar calendar in 1446. The tenth day was equivalent to October 9 of the Julian calendar, and so it is celebrated on this particular day.

After the South Korean government was established in 1945, Hangul Day was declared as a legal holiday to be marked on October 9, on which governmental workers were excused from work. However, its legal status as a holiday was removed in 1991. Twenty-three years later, in 2013, it was the first time it was celebrated as a national holiday.

When people think of Seoul, the image of the King Sejong statue in Gwanghwamun Square comes to mind, along with the Statue of General Yi Sun-sin. In 2009, to celebrate the 563rd anniversary of the invention of the Korean alphabet by King Sejong, the 6.2-meter high, 20-ton bronze statue of King Sejong the Great was revealed to the public.

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King Sejong the Great’s image is on the 10,000 won note.

 

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