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Invention of Hangeul

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Hangeul was invented by King Sejong, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty era.

King Seiong Considered to be one of the greatest rulers of Korea, King Sejong continues to be deeply respected by the Korean people. He was born in 1397 as the third son to King Taejong, and ascended to the throne in 1418. After coming to the throne, he achieved noteworthy results for Korea in all fields, including politics, the economy and culture.

King Sejong loved his people more than any other king. In the 10th year of his reign, an incident occurred where a man killed his own father. After hearing about this unfortunate event, he wrote a 'Hyohaengrok', or a book on filial piety to awaken his people on this issue.

In the 14th year of his reign, he ordered the law to be translated into 'Idu', a system where a combination of Chinese characters is used with special symbols, in order to indicate Korean verb endings and other grammatical markers. Sympathizing with his people, he decided to create a new alphabet that would lessen their frustration related to learning Hanmun, or Chinese writing. Chinese characters, which were used to express Hanmun, were ideographs, not phonetic symbols. They were not suitable for expressing the sounds of the Korean language and thus, a new phonetic writing system was considered necessary. This is where the foundation of Hangeul came about.

While creating the new writing system, King Sejong was confronted with opposition from the ruling class. His subjects, including Choi Man-ri, objected to his decision, stating that the creation of a new writing system not only went against the spirit of serving Great China, but also posed the possibility of the common people threatening the vested rights of the ruling class. As King Sejong wrote in the foreword of Hunminjeongeum, Hangeul is a result of his sympathy for his people who had difficulties clearly expressing their thoughts and needs. He was a king who dearly loved his people.