K-LEARNING | March.27.2024

Behind the Scenes of Hangeul: A Breathless Read Through Three Levels of Excitement


Learning Hangeul is crucial for mastering Korean. Curious about how much you know? 

Let's dive into three captivating stories about Hangeul to spark your curiosity.


Level 😁 x 2 ​

Dive into the Engrossing Stories of Hangeul!


✅ The Joseon Era: 

The Monopoly of Script and Its Limitations​ 

During the Joseon Dynasty, before the existence of Hangeul, the script in use was complex and almost exclusively monopolized by the ruling class.​ 😥

This script's complexity hindered the spread of information and knowledge, making it nearly impossible for the common people to access education.​ 

The ruling class's control over literacy meant that the general population was largely kept in the dark, unable to read, write, or learn about important cultural values such as the teachings of Confucianism.​



✅ The Creation of Hangeul: 
Breaking the Literacy Monopoly​ 

Hangeul was created as a means to break this monopoly, democratizing the ability to read and write.​ 

In the Joseon Dynasty, literacy was a privilege reserved for the elite. The introduction of Hangeul changed this, opening the doors of education and literacy to all social classes.


While there were several other reasons for its creation, the primary goal was to make literacy universally accessible, transforming the societal structure of Korea.



✅ King Sejong the Great’s Vision: 
Empowering the Common People​ 

Deeply concerned about the illiterate commoners' struggles, King Sejong the Great created Hangeul in 1443 and officially introduced it in 1446.​ 

His goal was to design a script that was simple and easy to learn, enabling every person, regardless of their social standing, to express their thoughts and ideas.​ 

His belief in the script's simplicity and effectiveness is captured in the saying from 📜Hunminjeongeum Haeryebon:
"A wise person understands it before morning, and even a foolish person can learn it in just ten days!"​ 

The creation of Hangeul was more than just the introduction of a new script. It was a revolutionary movement that broke down the barriers of literacy, empowering every member of society with the ability to read, write, and participate in cultural and intellectual discourse. King Sejong the Great's innovative approach to literacy continues to be celebrated for its profound impact on Korean society and culture.​



Level 😁x5​ 

Oh really? That's quite impressive!​


✅ King Sejong the Great's Mastery of Detail and Precision: 
The Three-Year Journey to the Creation of Hangeul​ 

Why was 'Hunminjeongeum' created in 1443 but only officially introduced in 1446?

King Sejong the Great, before unveiling Hangeul, established the 'Office of the Vernacular Writing', a dedicated institution where scholars extensively researched the new script. This was to ensure that the common people could easily adapt to this revolutionary writing system.​ 

This preparatory phase was akin to a modern-day beta testing phase before a major launch.​ 

King Sejong the Great, known for his meticulous attention to detail, engaged scholars from his inner circle and sent them to learn from the foremost linguists of the time. His goal was to imbue 'Hunminjeongeum' with both practicality and scholarly depth. Additionally, he instructed some of his ministers to compose songs using 'Hunminjeongeum', leading to the creation of 'Yongbieocheonga'. This piece stands as the first Korean literary work written in Hangeul, marking a significant milestone in the history of Korean literature and arts.​ 

It's amazing how meticulously King Sejong the Great prepared for the introduction of the new script. He spent a whole three years refining it, making sure that the common people wouldn't be shocked or resist the change. You've got to admire his attention to detail and care for his people, right?



Level 😁x100 ​ 

Wow, such spectacular stories about Hangeul!


✅ The Worst King, Yeonsangun: 
The Monarch Who Suppressed Hangeul​

Yeonsan, not recognized as a legitimate king, was demoted to the title '(gun)', thus his official name became Yeonsangun.​

There once was a king in the Joseon Dynasty, Yeonsangun, often considered one of the worst monarchs in Korean history. One day, he received three anonymous letters, all written in Hangeul, brimming with criticism against him.​ 

The first letter stated, ​ 
"King Yeonsangun, if you continue ruling this way, your reign won't last long!“​ 😠

The second one declared, ​ 
"King Yeonsangun, you are excessively obsessed with women."​ 😡

The third one accused, ​ 
"All the bad things you're doing, King Yeonsangun? Blame them on your birth mother, and you should probably eliminate her entire family!"​ 😈



While the elite scholars were too intimidated to speak out against this tyrant, the common people, 😡📢 empowered by their newly acquired literacy in Hangeul, started voicing their opinions. They began to express themselves more boldly, even including political criticism.​ 

King Yeonsangun was infuriated when he saw his own people criticizing him in this manner, especially after receiving those anonymous letters. He offered a substantial reward to find the person who wrote them and had handwriting experts from all over the country investigate, but they never identified the author.



That’s when he took drastic measures – he issued a '❌Hangeul Prohibition Order❌'. 


Anyone caught writing in Hangeul faced execution. 😱 Failing to report someone else writing in Hangeul resulted in severe punishment. Merely possessing a letter or a book written in Hangeul subjected one to intense interrogation. Officially, Hangeul disappeared, and it seemed as though the people’s criticisms written in Hangeul vanished as well.​ 

However, the combined discontent of the scholars and the common people eventually evolved into rebellion. Thus, this absolute monarch, King Yeonsangun, met a tragic end, disappearing into the dark annals of history.

You might think that the Hangeul we learn and use today was always welcomed 🤝 by everyone from the beginning because it's so easy to learn and study. However, there are these historical facts. 

How about that? Was it interesting? 


📍 Source of this content: KONOGRAM.com


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