This year, the city of Seoul unveiled a new monument in honour of King Sejong the Great, the inventor of the Korean alphabet, a true Renaissance man, and Korea’s greatest king. He truly was a ruler that comes along once in a millenium if you’re lucky. We probably do not realise how fortunate we have been in America to have some very high quality leaders right from the start. I do hope that we see them again.
The statue is huge and is appropriately situated on Sejong-ro (Sejong Street) across from the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts and close to Gyeongbok Palace, his main residence. There were also some inventions associated with him out on display such as the rain gauge.
The statue itself is appropriately huge. It states 세종대왕 which means King Sejong the Great.
Finally, here is the alphabet as it appeared in the Hunmin Jeongum, or The Correct Sounds for Instructing the People. For the longest time, the alphabet was used by the elites as a means for teaching their young real reading and writing, which of course in those days was all in classical Chinese. It seems as if hangeul is winning, given that very few things are written in the mixed script anymore.
For the most part, this is the same alphabet in use in Korea today. Four of the letters have since dropped from use, but perhaps they are still in use in Jeju-do. Jeju-do is an island off the southern coast of Korea. The people there speak a dialect of Korean which even native speakers of Korean can’t understand and which includes sounds that might have been used in standard Korean in the past.