Hangeul Day

by Molyna Noun

Korea marks the 565th anniversary of the creation of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, on October 9, Hangeul Day.

King Sejong the Great (1397-1450), the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), created Hangeul in 1446. He issued “Hunminjeong-eum,” meaning “Correct Sounds to Instruct the People,” Korea’s first instruction book on Hangeul, which UNESCO added to its Memory of the World Register in 1997.

To celebrate the creation of Hanguel, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism declared the first week of October as “Hangeul Week” and is hosting various events, including performances and exhibitions, and announced related policies to promote Hangeul,

Youths from Korea and overseas hold a celebratory event in Cheonan, Chungcheongnamdo (South Chungcheong Province) (Yonhap News).

From October 3 to 9, the ministry hosts an exhibition at Sujeongjeon inside Gyeongbokgung (palace) in central Seoul, where Hanguel was created. Visitors can learn more about various alphabets of the world and the dynamic energy of Hangeul at the exhibition titled “World Characters and Hangeul, Characters are Alive” (unofficial translation).

This exhibition was designed to introduce the development process of Hangeul as well as various alphabets from around the globe so that people can learn and feel the life and energy of literacy and appreciate the meaning of Hangeul Day.

At Gwanghwamun Plaza, downtown Seoul, Hangeul-themed performances and concerts will be held at an outdoor stage from October 6 to 8 at 7 p.m..

Various events related to Hangeul are also being held for overseas students and expats residing in Korea this month.

Overseas students have fun at a Hangeul-related quiz and events at a university in Korea (Yonhap News).

The National Folk Museum of Korea will hold a Korean language speaking contest for foreigners on October 11. Universities in Korea are also hosting various events to mark Hanguel Day for overseas students. In London, the Korean Language Institute Council will hold a promotional booth at an international language exposition to introduce Hangeul scheduled to take place from October 21 to 23.

Overseas students participate in a Korean language essay-writing contest held a university in Korea (Yonhap News).

Nearly 40 cultural and academic events will be held across the country in early October, including a special calligraphy exhibit on Hangeul at Seoul Square, downtown Seoul, from October 7 to 16.

* Policy to increase access to Korean language education overseas

On October 6, the Culture Ministry announced the government’s policy, composed of three main projects to globalize the Korean language. Under the policy, the ministry will focus on increasing the number of King Sejong Institutes to improve accessibility for those who are overseas and interested in learning the Korean language and Hangeul, strengthening the professional expertise of Korean language teachers, and standardizing and systemizing the educational curriculum of King Sejong Institutes.

King Sejong Instutute in London, UK, (left) and in Abu Dhabi, UAE

To this aim, the ministry will build 30 more institutes in ten countries next year where people show a growing interest in learning the Korean language and Hangeul. These selected countries include Myanmar, Pakistan, and East Timor, where people who plan to come to Korea as migrant workers through the country’s employment permit system. The ministry will also open an online Korean language program in five languages, including Chinese and English, on the homepage of the institute (www.sejonghakdang.org) for Internet users.

To upgrade the professional expertise of Korean language teachers, the ministry will send 20 people who have a Korean language education license to 20 countries and increase the number of trainees for Korean language teaching courses to 200 next year from the current number of 55.

To celebrate Hangeul Day, the Culture Ministry invited this year’s winners of the UNESCO Sejong Literacy Prize to Korea.

UNESCO established the King Sejong Literacy Prize in 1989, and since 1990, UNESCO rewards individuals or organizations that contribute to fighting illiteracy on International Literacy Day (September 8th) with the King Sejong Literacy Prize, named after Hangeul’s founder.

This year’s prize winners, who are from Mexico, Burundi, and the Philippines, will come to Korea on October 6 for seven days. Their itinerary includes attending the official Hanguel Day ceremony and participating in cultural programs to experience traditional Korean culture.

By Yoon Sojung
Korea.net Staff Writer