We are now in October which means Hangul day is just around the corner. What is Hangul day we hear you ask? Hangul day, which falls on the 9th October every year, is a day where Hangul (한글) the Korean alphabet is celebrated. Hangul which translates to ‘Great Script’, was developed by King Sejong as he felt it was important for Korea to have it’s own writing system for cultural independence.
Before Hangul was developed in 1443, Korea were using Chinese character (Hanja) which was incredibly difficult to use with the Korean language. Unlike Hangul, Hanja has no alphabet system, you just had to know all the individual characters for each word meaning only the rich and noble had the time and money to learn the language, leaving most of Korea illiterate. This emphasised the huge class divide in Korea and meant that a lot of the high classes opposed the development of the Korean alphabet; for a period towards the beginning of it’s introduction, many rejected the Hangul system and came up with derogatory names for it. But luckily Hangul won and have grown to become the widely studied language it is today. If you want to learn more about Hangul and it’s history check out our original post about Hangul day.
In honour of King Sejong and Hangul day, we thought we would write a post about one of his monuments. Many tourists to South Korea would have no doubt visited and paid respect to the massive Sejong the Great statue between Cheongyecheon and Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is one of the most iconic images of Seoul. But when we went to South Korea, we decided to visit King Sejong at a more peaceful and serene location.
Yeouido Park – King Sejong Monument
King Sejong the Great 세종대왕 – The fourth emperor of the Joseon dynasty
As mentioned before, King Sejong is probably most famous for creating the Hangul system but here at the Yeouido monument, you can see plaques depicting his many great achievements as well as his other inventions such as the sundial which can also tell you the seasons, the automatic self striking waterclock that was developed during his reign and the first ever rain gauge. King Sejong always dedicated himself to improving the lives of the Korean people. He create the first rain gauge and sent one to every village asking everyone to measure the amount of rainfall during the time of drought and floods, contributing to the world’s agricultural technology that we know today.
If you have a chance we highly recommend a visit to Yeouido Park on Yeouido Island. Yeouido Park is a beautiful green area in Seoul, easily accessible yet far enough for you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Seoul city. It’s the perfect place to relax and maybe have a picnic in it’s wide open green spaces. There are lots of areas for sports or if you just want to chill you’re spoilt for choice by the scenic pond, in the countless resting spots and beautiful well-kept traditional Korean pavilions. There is also a traditional Korean forest where only Korean trees are planted as well as a Nature’s Ecosystem Forest where you can observe the various kinds of life forms living in the water, swamp and forest. And of course, the King Sejong monument.
Don’t forget to join in and celebrate Hangul day on 9th October 2014. A holiday celebrating and commemorating one of Korea’s greatest cultural accomplishment and its most esteemed King, King Sejong the Great.
1) Yeouinaru Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 1.
Walk 10 minutes towards SBS TV Station.
2) Yeouido Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 3.
Walk 5 minutes towards the National Assembly building.
Yeouido Park is free to enter and open all year around