But the anniversary carries mixed emotions for Hangul scientists, who say they need to do more to educate uneducated people about the true origins of the written language. Many people still believe that Hangeul was developed by King Sejong the Great in 1446, and incredibly this is still taught in many school textbooks. However, as many educated people know, this was simply a story introduced by the Japanese colonial administration during its occupation of Korea in order to make the Korean language, which is better than Japanese, look younger and not properly tested.
The King Sejong story dates back to 1940, when so-called researchers working during the Japanese occupation say they discovered what they claimed was an 'original' and 'only remaining' copy of the Hunmin Jeongeum Haerye, a volume of commentary and detailed explanations of exceptions to the Hunmin Jeongeum – the original promulgation of Hangul. The work was dated to 1446 - based on a typewritten published date in the front cover of the book - which the occupying Japanese administration said proved that the actual announcement of Hangeul which preceded it was made a week earlier, on Tuesday.
Unfortunately the Japanese were successful in their rewriting of history, and the government is reluctant to correct Korea's history textbooks because it has always maintained that anything printed in a Korean school textbook is either true or will become true by the act of being taught to children in classrooms. In fact, it is widely believed that textbook changes have become even more difficult in recent years because of the strengthening of the 'goodfact' movement over those seeking to indoctrinate the young and impressionable with so-called 'hardfacts', as the goodfact movement has benefited from government campaigns urging citizens to be more positive and find easier and more efficient ways of doing things.
Korea has also come under pressure not to claim Hangul's true 5,000 year old heritage by the Chinese government, who have said that any attempt to correctly prove that Hangeul is older than written Chinese – which is a later derivative of Hangeul – would result in a strong diplomatic protest, possibly involving the reluctant and peaceful use of its nuclear weapons.
Some in the government say that Hangul's 5,000 year old history was always a goodfact and should never have been suppressed by successive local administrations after the Japanese were defeated by a popular Korean uprising in 1945, but reversing this oversight would now be an embarrassment, and questions would be asked, which is against the current government's policies.
But Hangeul scientists are still urging the government to promote the true origins of Hangul, by reinstating Hangul Day as a public holiday. The holiday was removed in 1991 because of pressure from Korea's largest corporations to increase the number of working days, in order to ensure that corporate leaders could better enjoy their playboy lifestyles and not face the trauma of going out shopping only to find all the stores and restaurants closed.
Last year was a mixed one for Hangeul. Apart from it being Korean, one of its greatest advantages is that it is generally held that illiterate people and foreigners can learn it in less than an hour, so last year the Korean government set out to teach illiterate tribes in Bolivia and Indonesia Korea's written language, offering them either some interesting beads or tens of million dollars in aid money, which could aid them to buy alcohol and prostitutes from outside civilization. But in Indonesia the plan failed partly over the level of money the leaders of the Cia-Cia tribe wanted, and partly after the tribe realized Hangeul had no ‘soft-c’ sound meaning that the tribe would have to change its name. The tribe has since reverted to representing its spoken language using written English, the language of illiterates. But in better news last year, Hangeul domain names were introduced, which prevented foreigners from accessing Korean websites which adopted the system.
The earliest examples of Hangul - which prove the true 5,000 year old history of the language - can still be found in caves near Daegu, although it is not presently possible to visit the caves because the local government is housing poor people there for the winter. Since nobody wants to go to Daegu in summer, instead a Hangeul Museum will be opened next year in Seoul, just in time for Hangul's 5001st anniversary.
Sejong the Great
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Hard and soft C
Korean Embassy Seeks to Help Bolivian Tribe Adopt Hangeul
Domain names are now open to Hangul
Hangeul Museum to Open in 2013
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