Han'gul Day

Han'gul Day

October 9
This day commemorates the invention of the Korean alphabet by scholars under the direction of King Sejong of the Yi Dynasty in 1446.
The Han'gul system consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The symbols for consonants are formed with curved or angled lines; the symbols for vowels are composed of vertical or horizonal straight lines with short lines on either side. Although Sejong made Han'gul the official writing system for the Korean language, it was not used by scholars or upper-class Koreans until after 1945, when Japanese rule came to an end and the influence of Confucianism and Chinese culture waned.
The reign of Sejong (1418-50) was a golden age in Korea, producing—besides the alphabet—the encyclopedic codification of medical knowledge and the development of new fonts of type for printing. (The technique of movable-type printing was developed in Korea in 1234, two hundred years before Johannes Gutenberg's invention in Germany.)
The day is celebrated with Confucian rituals and Choson-period court dances performed at Yongnung, the king's tomb, in Yoju, Kyonggi. Yoju also stages the King Sejong Cultural Festival, which is part of a three-day Grand Cultural Festival, with chanting and processions at Shilluksa Temple, farmers' dances, games such as tug of war, and a lantern parade. In some areas, there are calligraphy contests for both children and adults.
Ceremonies are also held at the King Sejong Memorial Center near Seoul.
CONTACTS:
Korea National Tourism Organization
2 Executive Dr., Ste. 750
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
800-868-7567 or 201-585-0909; fax: 201-585-9041
www.kntoamerica.com
SOURCES:
BkHolWrld-1986, Oct 9
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 594