Home | About VANK | Contact us | Notice | Site map | Downloads Vank Video | Friendly Korea | Paths to Peace | Join us |
Korean History
Culture & Hero
Peace issue
Global issue
Future of Korea
Vank video : Culture & Hero - Hangeul
Tell a Friend Bookmark and Share

The birth of Hangeul
Because Chinese is difficult and complicated, only the noble people who had vested rights enjoyed the privilege of information and knowledge during the Joseon Dynasty in the middle age.

However...
Great King Sejong starts a great, unprecedented quest, the one and only in the whole world in spite of strong opposition from his courtiers in order to build a stable society by crusading against illiteracy and teaching the unprivileged majority the necessary information needed for living.

The creation of new characters. The invention of new letters tried in the middle age, countering the universal rule that all language must evolve slowly over a long period of time.

Hangeul.
In the year 1443. Hangeul was created, based on humanism to allow the poor and the illiterate learn and write easily.

Unlike English and French, Korean is a unique language that can be learned easily. One day is all you need to learn to read it. Hangeul is a very scientific and convenient communicating tool.
- Winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature, jean-Marie Gustave le Clézio4

Hangeul was originally invented constituting 28 characters, but it has eventually evolved into 24 characters. It has taken root as the greatest Korean legacy and spiritual keynote. Hangeul is the best alphabet that all the languages have dreamed of.
- Alpha Beta: How letters shaped the Western World, 2000 john Man(British historian of science, traveler, documentary film writer)

Koreans invented the solely creative and amazing alphabetic writing system called Hangeul for their nation. Hangeul is the most scientific system of writing that cannot be found in any other country.
- E. o. Reischauer(Professor of Harvard university, East Asia historian)

Westerners could not perfect phonology until the 20th century, but King Sejong the Great systematized it five centuries earlier. Hangeul is the best writing system of which traditional philosophy conjuncts with scientific theory.
- Werner Sasse(Professor of the university of Hamburg, Germany)

Convenience of Hangeul
Every letter in the world can be classified into either an 'ideogram' or a 'phonogram'. Chinese characters called Hanja are typical 'ideograms'of those every letter which has a specific meaning. However, it is by no means easy to memorize an enormous number of letters one by one. On the other hand, unlike an 'ideogrammic system', a 'phonogrammic system' does not require many characters. This is because as each character indicates a certain pronunciation, it is easy indeed to express various sounds.

However, among phonograms, Japanese characters called Kana do not have consonants and vowels, but indicate a whole syllable instead.

Therefore it is impossible to write more number of syllables than the number of characters in Kana, making it difficult to transcribe diverse sounds. In addition, even the most developed letter among phonetic letter, the Roman letter from the west has limitation in the scribing and pronouncing each sound. Because one letter includes several different pronunciations.

On the other hand, Hangeul has only 24 letters(consonants and vowels) but it still can make every sounds in the world. After memorizing some consonants and vowels and learning some rules anyone can easily read any work in Hangeul. and pronunciation of almost every sounds in the world. Also the fact that one letter only one pronunciation makes Hangeul better than any other language in the world, including Chinese, Japanese and Roman letters.

Scientific principles of the invention of Hangeul
Hangeul has very simple principles of modeling. You can make any form of letters just by using basic figures such as triangles, circles, quadrangles, dots, or straight lines.

Also, its consonants are modeled after the vocal organs of human, while vowels are patterned after the shapes of sky, earth, and human, in other words, 'Cheon', 'Ji', 'In'.

Moreover, one of the most predominant natures of Hangeul is an addition of strokes to every letter. For example, a basic letter form 'ㄱ' can be read and used differently by adding one or two strokes, which results in 'ㅋ' and 'ㄲ'. These two variant sounds differ from the original and each makes aspirated and hard consonants. For these reasons, some scholars view Hangeul as the most advanced language system among phonetic symbols around the world.

"Hangeul is the most advanced phonetic writing in the world and is much more qualified than that of the ancient Rome at the same time."
-Umeda Hiroyuki(former professor of Tokyo University in Japan, president of Reitaku University in Japan)

Practicality of Hangeul
Hangeul played a key role in Korea's development as world's 9th-ranked IT country, making it a global IT powerhouse. Hangeul's organized and scientific system made Hangeul the most suitable character for information-oriented society where people frequently have to send various texts and electronically encode documents. Hangeul can operate rapidly and easily on 12 cell-phone keyboards along with 60 computer keyboards.

Especially, one research indicated that it takes 35% less time to type one letter on cell phone's Hangeul typing system compared to English. Nowadays, Hangeul does not confine itself on just characters; It is recognized for its beauty on artistic and cultural perspective, and is constantly expanding its usages.

Beyond Korea; Hangeul as everyone's heritage
In 1997, UNESCO registered Hunminjungeum Hyerebon(explanatory book of Hunminjungeum) as UNESCO Memory of the World, and began to annually award prize for individuals or groups who contributed to termination of worldwide illiteracy.

Currently, about 5000 languages exist throughout the world; However, numerous languages used by minorities don't have their own characters which made their users unable to read or write. Korea is participating in wiping out world illiteracy, by spreading Hangeul(a language easy to learn and adaptable to their pronunciation and language) to minor races which don't have their own character.

This would success the King Sejong's will who wanted to eliminate illiteracy prevalent throughout ignorant people 600 years ago. Reducing inconvenience through eliminating world's illiteracy and teaching enough knowledge along with justice will eventually lead to a better world to live in. In this way, Hangeul has put down roots around the world and became a true legacy constantly affecting their lives.