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09/25/2019 HYU News > General


Celebrating the Promulgation of the Korean Alphabet

International Recognition Promotes People's Interest in Hangul


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October 9th is a significant day in Korea. It is Hangul Day, which celebrates the Korean alphabet's promulgation on October 9th, 1446 by King Sejong during the Joseon Dynasty. Hangul translates to “great alphabet” in Korean, which had a different name of Hunminjeongum, meaning “the proper guiding alphabet of the people” in Korean, during the Joseon Dynasty.

It was created with the purpose of improving the lives of the people, making the language easier to learn and more convenient to use. About half a century later, in 1997, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the significance of Hangul and registered an early recording of the alphabet of 1446, known as the Hunminjeongum Manuscript, as a UNESCO Memory of the World.
The Hunminjeongum Manuscript, published in 1446, became the foundation for Hangul today. The manuscript is registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World.
(Photo courtesy of the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea)
Hanyang University, which is named after the very capital of Joseon, has many fans of Hangul. One in particular is Professor Krisda Chaemsaithong (Department of English Language and Literature), who has been studying Hangul since 2012.  Chaemsaithong was born in Thailand and later went to the United States to pursue his ambition in linguistics. Although he was already a professor at the University of Houston in Texas, he came to Korea and has since been teaching linguistics at Hanyang.

“I think that it is a very interesting language, and the alphabet is easily accessible to foreigners. I also know that the alphabet has been invented for specific purposes to make it easier and accessible for people to learn,” said Chaemsaithong. “For example, the consonants reflect the shape of the mouth, and the vowels have three basic shapes: the circle, the vertical stroke, and the horizontal stroke. Those are very scientifically and rationally made, which are great innovations.”
Professor Krisda Chaemsaithong (Department of English Language and Literature) shares his thoughts on Hangul.
Pronounciation and articulation places of Korean basic letters
(Courtesy of The Aesthetic Features of Korean Alphabetic System-Hangul by M. Ertan Gökmen)

Chaemsaithong said that he expects Hangul to become more popular, following Korea’s increasing presence in the world. “The political and economic positions of Korea in the world would shape the position of Hangul,” said Chaemsaithong. “Compared to 10 years ago, Korea has now made a great leap in terms of people’s interests, which perhaps came with Hallyu (the “Korean wave,” the cultural presence of Korea spread across the world through media and music), and there are even Korean majors in Europe, Turkey, and Asia. I think there has been a huge development in the instructional method of Korean. I have seen only positive responses towards Korean.”
Chaemsaithong poses with his level-five Korean textbook. There are six levels in the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), with the level of proficiency going up as the numbers go higher.

On the other hand, international students in Hanyang also participate in the widespread trend, as many students take a class or two during their stay in Hanyang to learn Korean.
Yasmin Bouchaib (left) is enjoying the sun with her friends in front of the Administration Building.

“I’ve been studying Korean for more than a year,” said Yasmin Bouchaib, who majors in Industrial Business. “I really like Korean. I like it a lot. Through watching K-dramas, of course, it made it a bit easier to get into Korean. I like the logic of Korean. It makes sense. The grammar and the words are very logical.”
Helena Bieselt is posing with her name spelled out in Korean in front of the Student Union building.

“I actually started in Germany studying Hangul but really began studying it since university started in September,” said Helena Bieselt, an English Language and Literature major. “Have a beautiful Korean day, and I really love your country.”

Jung Myung-suk
Photos by Lee Hyeon-seon

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