Hangeul Day: Celebration of the Korean Alphabet

In Korea, Hangeul or 한글 is the main language of the country. Have you been wondering when is Hangeul Day? The celebration of the Korean Alphabet? Let’s find out here.

What is Hangeul Day?

King Sejong

Every country has its own language and the same with the Philippines which celebrates the Buwan ng Wika. In Korea,  the  Hangul Day or known as 한글날 is the celebration of the Korean Alphabet on October 9 every year.

Korean’s devoted this day to celebrate the excellence of Hangeul and to give a tribute to King Sejong. Before the country doesn’t have its own language, they used Chinese characters called ‘hanja’ but it’s hard to learn especially for people who belong to the lower class. Then King Sejong decided to develop a new writing system that people can all learn despite their social status.

What is Hangeul?

Hangeul was created by King Sejong, the fourth King of the Joseon Dynasty about 600 years ago. Composed of two words: han (한), which means ‘great‘ and geul (글) means a ‘writing script‘. Therefore, Hangeul means ‘great alphabet‘. It consists of 14 consonants ( ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ)  and 10 vowels (ㅏ ㅑ ㅓ ㅕ ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅠ ㅡ ㅣ), a total of 24 letters. The vowel letters are the combination of three elements: (•) hanuel (하늘),  which means sky; (—) ttang ( 땅 ), represents the earth; while (ㅣ) represents the human (사람). The shapes of the basic consonants ㄱ ㄴ ㅁ ㅅ ㅇ  are graphical representations of the speech organs used to pronounce them.

History of Hangeul

In 1443, King Sejong created ‘Hunminjeongeum‘ (훈민정음) which means ‘the right sound to teach the people ‘ and published in 1446.  The original Korean alphabet has 17 consonants and 11 vowels which has a total of 28 letters.  In 1997, UNESCO has named the prize as King Sejong the Great as a reward for developing a writing system which made the people learn to read and write.  The name of the Korean Alphabet, Hangul started in 1910.

Who is King Sejong?

King Sejong is the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty and the third son of King Taejong and Queen consort Min. He ascended the throne in 1418.  In his reign, he encouraged the people to live in the belief of Confucianism. With the help of King Sejong, Jang Yeong-sil, became famous as the prominent inventor. Together they created the rain gauge, water clocks, armillary spheres, and sundials.

The rain gauge was first created in Korea in 1441. An instrument used to measure the amount of rainfall in an area. Water clocks (자격루 or 물시계) uses a flow of water to measure time. An armillary sphere (혼천의 or 천문 기기)  is an old tool that is supposed to represent the heavens.

While sundial (앙부일구 or 해시계) is a device that tells the time of day when there is sunlight by the apparent position of the Sun in the sky.

King Sejong made the law that granted the government nobi (means slaves or lowest rank in medieval Korean society) women to get 100 days of maternity leave after giving birth in 1426. Later in 1430, the maternity leave was lengthened by one month before giving birth. King Sejong allowed the 30 days paternity leave too in 1434.

He died in 1450 due to diabetes complications and buried at the Yeong Mausoleum, located in west Yeoju.

How to celebrate Hangeul Day?

To celebrate this day, you can visit Gwanghwamun Square where you can see the golden statue of King Sejong the Great. Located in the front of Gyeongbokgung Palace. At the back of the statue there’s an entrance to the museum. If you want to learn more about King Sejong you can visit this place.

Inside the museum, there are some exhibits that explain the creation of Hangeul. During the reign of King Sejong, a lot of knowledge and enlightenment have been shared with the people instead of war. At present, you will see his picture in the 10,000 Korean bills.

[Source: tripadvisor.ie]

Another way to celebrate is to visit the National Hangeul Museum (국립한글박물관) located in 139, Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (서울시 용산구 서빙고로 139 국립한글박물관) which was opened in 2014. Admission is free of charge and opens from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m from Sunday to Friday. While Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  The museum permits taking photos for non-commercial use only in the exhibitions and the use of flash or tripods are not allowed.  Phones should be in silent mode as respect to other viewers. In addition, pets and smoking are not allowed. For exhibition tours, you may call 02-2124-6200. If you don’t want to have a tour guide the audio guide is available. To get here take the Seoul Subway Line 4 and get off at Ichon Station (Exit 2) and walk towards Yongsan Family Park.

Lastly to complete the celebration, learning Hangeul shouldn’t be left behind. There are many ways to celebrate this day and you shouldn’t miss it!

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5 Comments

  1. oooh! this is really interesting! im a learning a lot, did’t know koreans didnt have their own languare before. so much to learn. looking forward for more!

  2. So that is the history of hangeul. Honestly my 7 year old daughter is into hangeul writing. And I don’t know how she learned it.

  3. Wow. Very informative article. Belated Happy Hangeul Day! I wanna learn how to write. Hehe

  4. Weird, but I was imagining a historical korean drama while I was reading your post. Those were one of the best ones! I remembered starting to learn the alphabet during the time I was addicted to kdrama. It was super easy like I remember all the letter, i could read and write within just a few days! Hahaha

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