Hangeul Day, or Hangeul Proclamation Day, is a public holiday celebrated in South Korea.
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The purpose of Hangeul Day is to celebrate the formation of the Korean alphabet, or hangeul. This is a day of pride and historical reflection for many South Koreans. The decision to implement the hangeul alphabet has had many effects on the state of South Korea and its people.
For this reason, the alphabet and the minds behind its creation are honored on this holiday. Hangeul Proclamation Day is celebrated on October 9 of each year. The holiday is also celebrated in North Korea on January 15 of each year, but North Koreans refer to it is as Chosongul Day.
The history surrounding Hangeul Day in South Korea is long and interesting. The events leading up to the current form of the holiday began all the way back in the 15th century
In 1446, the hangeul alphabet was created by King Sejong of Korea. In an effort to create a form of writing that is much simpler than the Chinese writing system that was used prior to 1446, Sejong published his new alphabet and a guide to using it to communicate in a publication known as “Hunmin Jeongeum”. The hangeul alphabet was a major success and increased the literacy rate of the Korean population.
After using the hangeul alphabet for many years, the Hangeul Society held the 480th anniversary of the writing system. This was the first celebration held in honor of the alphabet and began to shape Hangeul Proclamation Day as it is currently known today. Because the exact date of the birth of the hangeul alphabet was unknown at this time, the Hangeul Society held this first celebration on November 4.
In 1931, scholars came to the conclusion that the hangeul alphabet was likely released to Korea by King Sejong on October 28. For this reason, the Hangeul Society changed the date of the holiday from November 4 to October 28.
A few years later, adjusted the date of the celebration for the Julian Calendar that may have been used during the time of the hangeul alphabet’s creation. The Hangeul Society changed the date once more. This time, the date of Hangeul Proclamation Day was moved by just one day, from October 28 to October 29.
In 1940, Korean scholars discovered an original copy of the “Hunmin Jeongeum Haerye”, the book that King Sejong distributed the hangeul writing system with. This book also contained the original publication date. This date stated that the book was published on the 10th day of the 9th month. After translating the lunar calendar of 1446 to the Gregorian calendar, scholars came to the conclusion that the writing system was born on October 8, 1446. As a result, the Hangeul Society learned of the actual date of birth for the Korean writing system. This new date was applied to the holiday and it remains that way today.
In the midst of the 1940s, South Korea was established as an independent nation state. In the same year of the nation’s creation, South Korea’s government declared Hangeul Proclamation Day to be a national public holiday. During this day, the South Korean people would reflect on the history that led the country to its current form.
After nearly 50 years of little change, the recognition of Hangeul Proclamation Day was challenged in 1991. After corporate lobbyists convinced the government of South Korea that more working days should be added to the national calendar, Hangeul Proclamation Day lost its status as a national public holiday.
Nearly 20 years after Hangeul Proclamation Day lost its status as a national public holiday in South Korea, the Hangeul Society made an appeal to the government to reinstate the holiday on October 9. On November 1, 2012, the Hangeul Society was successful and the South Korean government made the decision to reinstate Hangeul Proclamation Day.
Hangeul Proclamation Day was celebrated as a national public holiday for the first time since 1991 on October 8, 2013. South Koreans have celebrated Hangeul Proclamation Day every year since then.
Effects of the Hangeul Alphabet
One of the primary motives for King Sejong’s implementation of the hangeul alphabet was the many people of Korea who struggled to become literate. The cause for this issue in Korea was the lack educational programs that could efficiently teach people how to read and write using the existing Chinese characters. To fix this problem, King Sejong create the hangeul alphabet and writing system. With these new tools, the people of Korea quickly learned how to read and write. This expanded access to more education and allowed Koreans to attain higher paying jobs in both Korea and around the world. Many Korean elites were wary of the growing education of the working class, but people across Korea still continued to learn and expand their potential. It is believed that the hangeul alphabet and King Sejong’s efforts have contributed to the success of today’s South Korea. To honor King Sejong and his writing system, a statue of him was erected in Seoul.
Many South Koreans do not participate in large celebrations during Hangeul Day. Instead, they usually stay at home and enjoy a day off from work. People may also go on a short outing with friends and family.
Hangeul Proclamation Day honors the history and pride of the South Korean people.