This week is full of interesting holidays. Yesterday was Fitness Day in Japan and today is Hangeul Day in Korea. The Korean writing was officially promulgated by Great King Sejong on the 9th day of the 10th month in the old calendar which has now become October 9th.
Hangeul, for those not familiar, is the alphabetic writing system used in Korean. Like many countries in Asia, they adopted Chinese characters in the old days, but they did not fit Korean very smoothly.1 So Koreans tried many times to find a reliable, simple way to express Korean using a native writing system, and after centuries of trial-and-error, they found a solution.
Most scripts were still complicated and awkward, but Hangeul was straightforward enough that even the peasant-class could learn to read it. Hangeul organizes syllables into “blocks”, but the blocks are made out of consonants and vowels (like English), with many different combinations possible. As one article shows, Hangeul is theoretically capable of producing 11,000 different sounds.
And even today, Hangeul is being adopted by tribes in Southeast Asia in order to develop their own writing systems.
Anyhow, Happy Hangeul Day Korea and congrats on developing such a cool, and useful writing system. 🙂
P.S. Last year’s post.
1 Japanese, Khitan, Mongolian and others all had the same issue.