Hangul Day: What Is It and How to Celebrate?

Hangul Day: What Is It and How to Celebrate?

HANGUL DAY

October 9 is a special day for Koreans. Do you know why? It’s Hangul’s birthday!

Hangul Proclamation Day (한글날), also called Hangul Day or Korean Alphabet Day, is a national holiday in Korea. We celebrate to show our gratitude to King Sejong and to teach people around the world about Hangul. Let’s get into it, shall we?

What is Hangul?

Hangul is probably the most scientific alphabet in the world. The consonants represent the shapes of the mouth, tongue, and teeth. The vowels stand for heaven, earth, and humanity. There are 10 vowels and 14 consonants, making a total of 24 letters.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

The shapes of the letters make Hangul easy to learn. There’s a saying that: “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; even a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.”

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Hangul is also one of the world’s youngest alphabets. Before its invention, Koreans spoke Korean but wrote in Chinese characters called hanja (한자). The letters didn’t reflect the sounds of the Korean language and were also complicated to write.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Only scholars and noblemen had the time and money to learn it. That meant most Koreans couldn’t read or write. That is, until King Sejong came to the throne.

Who Was King Sejong the Great?

Sejong is considered one of Korea’s greatest leaders. He reigned from 1418 until his death in 1450. He established welfare programs, fought Japanese pirates, and created Hangul, or Hunminjeongeum (훈민정음), as it was originally called.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Sejong worked with scholars in the Hall of Worthies (Jiphyeonjeon, 집현전) to compile the alphabet and a manual. Both documents were published and distributed in 1446. But the nobles weren’t happy. They were afraid the peasants would become too powerful. They criticized hangul and continued to use hanja.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

In 1504, Prince Yeongsang (Yeongsangun) banned Hangul from being published or studied. It stayed alive thanks to women writers, Buddhist monks, and Protestant missionaries. It also enjoyed a revival in the 16th and 17th centuries through Korean literature.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Hangul officially became Korea’s national writing system in 1894. However, after the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910, it was banned again until 1945. Different language groups worked to preserve Hangul. They created Korean dictionaries which were saved and eventually published.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Both Hanja and Hangul appeared in Korean newspapers up to the 1960s. After the ‘70s, Hangul became more common and has now mostly replaced Hanja. Chinese characters still pop up in media and advertising, but most younger Koreans nowadays use Hangul.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

If you want to learn more about King Sejong, check out the 2008 k-drama “The Great King, Sejong” starring Kim Sang-kyung.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

When Did Hangul Day Start?

Koreans started celebrating Hangul Day in 1926. It was first called “Gagya Day” (가갸날) after the Giyeok characters. However, it changed to “Hangul Day” in 1928, when the Korean alphabet became known as “hangul.”

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Hangul Day was also celebrated on different days. It went to its current date in 1945 after the discovery of the “Hunminjeongeum Haerye” (훈민정음 해례) in 1940. According to the document, the Korean alphabet was originally published around October 9.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Hangul Day is a national holiday, so workers and students get the day off. But did you know that from 1991-2012, there was no Hangul Day holiday? That’s because Korean businesses wanted their employers to keep working on that day.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

The Korean government listened to them and removed Hangul Day from the list of national holidays for over 20 years. Later it changed its mind, and Hangul Day was celebrated again starting in 2013.

How Do Koreans Celebrate Hangul Day?

There are a few ways to celebrate Hangul Day. One way is to visit The Story of King Sejong Museum, located right under the King Sejong statue in Gwanghwamun Square.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Inside are seven exhibition rooms, including a video room. Visitors will learn about King Sejong’s achievements. They can also learn how to write their names in Hangul.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

You can also check out the National Hangeul Museum near Yongsan Family Park. Inside there’s a children’s museum, a café, and a Hangeul Library.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

The museums and other cultural centers host special events for Hangul Day. These include calligraphy classes and contests; art exhibitions; games and performances; and fashion shows.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

If you can’t make it to Korea, don’t worry. There’s an easy way to celebrate Hangul Day. And that’s by learning Hangul!

What Is the Best Way to Learn Hangul?

Like we said earlier, Hangul is easy to learn. Here are some websites and apps that can help you do that.

Talk To Me In Korean teaches you Hangul through online lessons, textbooks, and eBooks. You’ll learn grammar, vocabulary, and many useful phrases. There are even videos where you can watch people use Korean in everyday life! TTMIK has both free and premium content.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

90 Day Korean helps you learn to speak a 3-minute conversation in Korean in 90 days. It uses games and exercises to teach the concepts. You also get to practice speaking in Korean over Zoom. It’s a more intense course, and it is paid (more expensive with personal coaching).

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Duolingo is a popular (free!) tool for learning Korean. You’ll be able to pick up Hangul and basic phrases easily. There aren’t any speaking exercises, though, so you’ll have to find a native Korean speaker and practice speaking with them.

We also recommend that you watch k-dramas and listen to K-pop. It will help you be more familiar with the sounds of Korean and some useful words and phrases. Just be careful not to use casual Korean with a stranger!

You can also check our dedicated blog about the best Korean language learning apps that you might find useful.

Hangul is an amazing language with a unique history. Are you familiar with the Korean language? Have you been inspired to learn it? Tell us in the comments below.

And from all of us at Seoulbox, Happy Hangul Day!

 

 

Author: SUJI SOHN

About the author: Suji was studying in London in the year 2019 and, although being separated from her family, her passion for Korea was growing. She noticed that a lot of her close friends loved Korean culture, food, music, and dramas and gradually started to fall in love with Korea, but there weren't many opportunities to actually "experience" this wonderful nation!

Suji was aware of what she needed to do to introduce Korea to her friends' lives and, conceivably, to those of everyone else who was curious about a piece of Daehan Min-guk.

Back to blog