Colloquium on Invention of Han’gŭl

Han'gŭl expert Chung KwangThe much-admired Kore­an alpha­bet, Han’gŭl, was devised in the fif­teenth cen­tu­ry. The his­tor­i­cal back­ground of that achieve­ment will be the sub­ject of a Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­qui­um pre­sen­ta­tion by Kwang Chung, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of Korea Uni­ver­si­ty, on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 3, 2015.

Accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Chung, the peo­ple liv­ing north of Chi­na long tried to com­pete with the cul­ture of Chi­nese char­ac­ters before the inven­tion of Han’gŭl. Their con­tin­u­ous effort to make phono­grams ulti­mate­ly result­ed in Han’gŭl. More specif­i­cal­ly, the change in the stan­dard lan­guage due to a change of Chi­nese dynas­ties result­ed in a need to teach new Chi­nese words, and this prob­a­bly led to the cre­ation of these new char­ac­ters.

When the Yuan dynasty of the Mon­gols set up its cap­i­tal at Bei­jing, a new Chi­nese lan­guage began to spread. As this lan­guage became the offi­cial lan­guage of the Yuan empire, the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Chi­nese char­ac­ters became sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent in Korea and Chi­na. King Sejong want­ed to adapt the pro­nun­ci­a­tion in Korea to fit the pro­nun­ci­a­tion from Chi­na, Chung explains. The pho­net­ic sym­bols devised to car­ry out this pur­pose came to be used to write the Kore­an lan­guage and have become the present Han’gŭl.

Pro­fes­sor Chung’s pre­sen­ta­tion will take place in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies con­fer­ence room from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The pre­sen­ta­tion will be deliv­ered in Kore­an; an English-language ver­sion of the text will be avail­able at the col­lo­qui­um.

The Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Mānoa cam­pus. Cen­ter events are free and open to all. Pre­sen­ta­tion of this col­lo­qui­um is sup­port­ed by the Doo Wook and Helen Nahm Choy Fund. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone (808) 956‑7041.

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