Hangul Day celebrated by Google Korea
Happy Hangul Day! Actually, I missed the boat on this one. The actual Hangul Day was Oct. 9, but there's still time to celebrate! This is the 564th anniversary, and it used to be honored as a legal holiday (complete with a day off work) until 1991, but they discontinued that practice. Can you imagine getting a day off of work to celebrate the alphabet? That's awesome!

(I won't get into all the specifics of the alphabet because I covered all that stuff in this post.)

Hangul Day (한글날) is the celebration of the written language by King Sejong the Great in 1446. Prior to his invention (how do you invent a written language anyway?? kind of boggles my brain) the language was rarely written. They relied on Classical Chinese when needed, but the language was so elaborate and complex that few Koreans could receive the training necessary, and thus, most were illiterate. King Sejong's goal was to make literacy accessible to everyone, which in turn, would place all people on a more even level. The king made his intentions clear, in this document where he introduces Hangul:

It's written in Classical Chinese (because the people hadn't been introduced to Hangul yet) and according to Language Log, the translation reads:
"The sounds of our country's language are different from those of China and do not correspond to the sounds of Chinese characters. Therefore, among the stupid people, there have been many who, having something to put into writing, have in the end been unable to express their feelings. I have been distressed by this and have designed twenty-eight new letters, which I wish to have everyone practice at their ease and make convenient for their daily use."
It totally cracks me up that the King is empathizing with people, and yet calls them "stupid", but I guess his heart was in the right place.

In Korea, a full spectrum of events are held to celebrate. Exhibitions, dance performances, handwriting competitions, and a fluency competition were all planned.

To see more of this lovely alphabet, check out Hyunwoo Sun's annual collaborative video.

I'm not usually a proponent of "Wickedpedia" but I do admit, they have a pretty comprehensive article on Hangul.

And for a really great analysis of the language from a linguists' point of view, check out Language Log.


  1. cool! okay, i have to tell you that in korean school, there was some urban legend that king sejong thought up the hangul alphabet by studying the shoji screens while he was, um...on the pot. probably not true, but this was what was circulating among bored korean school students. :)

  2. I would love to have a day off for the alphabet. Although as a nurse it wouldn't matter anyway :)
    Very interesting!


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