Hangul Day: Korean Alphabet Day

What is Hangul Day?

South Korea Hangul Day, also known as Korean Alphabet Day, is observed annually on October 9. It is a national holiday commemorating the invention and proclamation of the Korean alphabet, known as Hangul (or Hangeul). North Korea also designated January 15 as North Korea Day. Before Hangeul was invented, Koreans used their native phonetic writing system to write classical Chinese. Hangeul Day has been a national holiday since 1970, except from 1991 to 2012.

History of South Korea Hangul Day

The dates of Hangeul Day have changed since it was first introduced in 1926. In 1945, the Korean government declared October 9th Hangeul Day, an annual public holiday. However, between 1991 and 2012, Hangeul Day’s status as a public holiday was revoked as the South Korean government came under pressure from large employers to increase the country’s annual number of working days. As a result, the day is still important, but the workers do not have a day off. November 1, 2012, restored as a national holiday. 

Before Hangeul was invented, Koreans used Chinese characters to write, using their native phonetic writing system. In addition to learning a lot of Chinese characters, the grammatical differences between Korean and Chinese make it difficult for Koreans to write in Chinese characters. As a result, only those with the privilege of being educated were literate. Therefore, King Sejong decided to create the Hangeul alphabet to increase the literacy rate of all Koreans, and he proclaimed the publication of Hangul in 1446.

Despite all its virtues, Hangeul almost disappeared during the Joseon Dynasty. At that time, elites who wanted to maintain their status realized that Chinese characters were the only true way of writing Korean. Hangeul was effectively banned by King Yeonsan in the early 16th century, but saw a revival towards the end of the century. It then underwent a revival in the 19th century and gradually became more common, especially due to its role in Korean nationalism during the Japanese occupation. The use of Chinese characters declined in the 1970s, paving the way for the widespread use of Hangeul in almost all Hangeul scripts today.

How to celebrate Hangul Day

We celebrate this day in honor of King Sejong’s exploits and promulgation of “Hunminjeongeum,” a document that created an entirely new Korean script, later known as Hangeul. Why not visit the King Sejong Museum to commemorate Hangeul Day? Inside the museum, several exhibits explain the creation of Hangeul and other technological advancements during the reign of King Sejong. King Sejong’s reign is often seen as a golden age in Korean history, and enlightenment and knowledge, not war and invasion, were the defining events of that era.

Another way to celebrate Hangeul Day in Korea is to learn Hangeul. As mentioned earlier, learning the Korean alphabet takes just two hours, allowing you to read Korean characters and improve your pronunciation and ability to learn new words.

5 interesting facts about the Holiday

  1. It’s a language isolate

It is said that Korean is generally classified as an isolated language, which means that it is not significantly related to other existing languages.

  1. ‘Seoul’ means capital city

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, literally means “capital” in Korean.

  1. Verbs come last in the Korean sentences

Korean is a subject-object-verb (SOV) language.

  1. It’s different in North and South Korea

The North and South Korean languages ​​have different pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar rules.

  1. It’s ‘our’ instead of ‘my’

In Korean, speakers use “our” or “us” instead of “mine” or “me.”

South Korea Hangul Day Timeline

1894 – The Initial Use in Official Documents

Hangul is adopted and used in the writing of official documents.

1910 – The Continued Use in Schools

Although the official language of Korea became Japanese during the Colonial Rule, Hangul is still taught in Korean-established schools.

1938 – The Script is Banned

Hangul is banned in schools as part of Japanese cultural assimilation.

1941 – The Documents are Outlawed

All publications written in Hangul are outlawed.

1945 – The Script is reinstated

Hangul is reinstated in Korea’s writing system following Korea’s independence from Japan’s colonial rule.

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