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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Take Fivers: King Sejong the Great is everywhere in Sudogwon-Gijeon Region

King Sejong the Great is most famous icon in the Republic of Korea. This great king contributed to the Koreans by inventing 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. While creating the alphabet, King Sejong encountered opposition of courtiers.

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. 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. His intention was to establish a cultural identity for Korea through its unique script. The blocks of letters are then strung together linearly.

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 of study. Moving to the 21st century, there are four statues of King Sejong the Great with different stances erected in Sudogwon-Gijeon Region to commemorate his contributions to the Korean society.

Statue of King Sejong the Great in Deoksugung Palace Grounds, Seoul Jung-gu

Statue of King Sejong the Great in Sejong Boulevard-Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul Jongno-gu

Statue of King Sejong the Great in Yeouido Park, Seoul Yeongdeungpo-gu

Statue of King Sejong the Great in the Royal Tomb of Yeongneung, Yeoju City, Gyeonggi Province