October 9th is the National Day of South Korea commemorating the fact that King Sejong invented the great ‘Hunminjeongeum’ which we call ‘Hangul’ today. Hangul was created during the Joseon Dynasty period when King Sejong found out that his people had a very high illiteracy rate. However, in modern society, the beautiful Hangul is being destroyed due to the using of abbreviations, new words, and foreign languages. We need to be aware of the beauty of the ‘Hangul’ and its value to pass it on to the next generation.
First, Hangul has the accurate year when it was created and its creator. When we look at the ‘Hunminjeongeum Haerye’ version, we can find the reason King Sejong created Hangul and the explanation of how to use it. The creation of Hangul was based on 3 definite spirits and purposes: self-reliance, compassion, and practicality. Also, it was created by using scientific principles that it contributed much to lower the rate of illiteracy among the people of the Joseon Dynasty. In fact, British linguist Jeffrey Sampson has said that Hangul is the most scientifically outstanding alphabet, and that ‘Hangul is a gift from God to man.’ Second, Hangul reflects the exact characteristics of the sounds. King Sejong created 28 brand new letters considering the correlation between the sound and the letter. Hangul is made of 17 consonants and 11 vowels and we can freely make various words and sentences by combining them. In addition, it is a phonemic writing in that it has an advantage of being able to be typed much more easily and quickly than other alphabets. Third, Hangul does not have multiple pronunciations. For example, let’s look at an English vowel ‘a’. It is used in words ‘baby’ and ‘party’ as entirely different pronunciations. One English vowel has more than 2 pronunciations. Hangul, on the other hand, has a constant sound of its vowels so that anyone can easily read it. For example, the Korean vowel ‘ㅏ[a]’ is found to be pronounced the same in 2 different words ‘악어[Ageo]’ and ‘아기[Agi]’. In ‘Hunminjeongeum’, it says a stupid person needs a week and a smart one only needs a day to learn and read Hangul. English, with its unfixed pronunciation, is hard to pronounce even after learning the alphabet. But Hangul is an alphabet that can be easily read after learning the letters.
UNESCO annually awards the ‘King Sejong Literacy Prize’ to those who have made great contributions to the eradication of illiteracy. We can realize from the name of this prize that the world recognizes the Hangul is the best alphabet that has contributed much to reduce the illiteracy rate of Korea. We must remember the importance and excellence of Hangul and work hard to use it properly in order to pass it on to our future generations.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >