Tomorrow, October 9 is a very special birthday. It’s the official birthday of hangul, the written language of Korea. This year, it’s celebrating its 570th year of existence.

Before Hangul (also often written as Hangeul) was created by King Sejong the great, the Korean language was written in Chinese characters known as hanja. Hanja was hard to learn for many people, so the King decided a new alphabet should be introduced to help everyday people become literate. You can see some of King Sejong’s hangeul scrolls at King Sejong The Great Memorial Hall.

The word, Hangul, also has an interesting meaning. 한 han means big, great and 글 gul means alphabet. It’s unique, as each vowel is made by a line or lines that represent the sky, earth, and people; each consonant reflects the shape of the human mouth in pronunciation. There is a total of 40 letter combinations.

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The day is a public holiday in both North and South Korea, although it’s celebrated in North Korea on January 15th instead.

If you’re in Korea and want to buy some items with hangul print, Insadong is a great place to find unique, handmade items. Ssamziegil is a great shopping centre that houses 70 local artists and their shops.


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British writer and editor living in Japan. Currently studying Japanese, Korean, K-pop dance, and the fine form of 이성종's legs.