Today, we visited the city of Cheongju, in the province of Chungcheongbuk (just south of the Gyeonggi province where Seoul is located), for a lunch of Ginseng soup and broiled chicken (supposedly good for what ails you), along with kimchi, seaweed, buckchoi and other veggies. After lunch, we walked a bit around Cheonju and then headed to Jikji, the Cheonju Early Printing Museum.
The Cheonju Early Printing Museum is famous because it is here that artifacts were found that show evidence of the earliest printing with movable metal printing type by Koreans in 1377, even before Gutenberg’s famous Bible was printed.
You may ask, “How do we know this?” Because in 1985, while excavating to find evidence of the nearby Heungdeoksa Temple, archaeologists stumbled upon movable metal type in the artifacts of the temple and quickly surmised that the temple did, in fact, house the earliest metal movable type dating back to 1377. So as they were re-creating the temple, they added a museum housing the artifacts relating to the movable metal type.
Best of all, we were treated to a lab exercise in making paper from pulp, drying the paper, printing the paper and assembling a book from the paper. See the related picture of me and my “assistant” helping me make my book (it was more like I was HER assistant in this project, as she was just amazing). But we had a great time and it was quite a learning experience about how pulp creates the paper and the movable type becomes a book … neat activity!
If it hadn’t been for King Sejong, the Korean people would probably be using some form of Chinese or Japanese characters to write their language today.
King Sejong, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, invented Hunminjeongeum (which means ‘proper sounds to instruct the people’), which is simply known as Hangeul.
Fortunately, the 28 letters were flexible enough for people to use in writing and they are even adaptable for the technological age. While the Chinese figure out how to place all of the characters of their alphabet on a computer keyboard, the Korean people have no problem placing a mere 28 letters on a keyboard. King Sejong knew what he was doing even long before the first computer even came along!
During our travels around the sights and sounds of Korea, we also visited Yeongneung, the tomb of Korea’s renowned and beloved King Sejong, which is pictured in the giant mound here. Many animals and characters, made of stone, continue to guard King Sejong’s tomb even today, as they did back in 1450 when he died.
These officials were once thought to protect and accompany the spirit of King Sejong on its journey. The tomb is not enormously huge, as are some other tombs of famous kings around Korea. But it is appropriately placed among trees and hills in a perfect spot among the mountains where one can see the rolling hills of the countryside and the importance of this setting, at the time of his burial, to respecting him forever.
Today, the “King Sejong Prize” is given by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to individuals and/or groups throughout the world who make substantial contributions to successfully lowering the literacy rate.
Many of you are probably wondering how we are faring with the floods in South Korea right now. The rain is STILL coming down, but luckily most of the damage has been south of the city of Seoul. Some parts of southern Seoul have been affected, like the subway tracks that are underground and many of the stations in southern Seoul. But luckily, we have not experienced that.
More news on the floods and what’s happening here:
Landslides Caused by Heavy Downpours in Korea Kills More Than 20
Heavy rains cause fatal landslides in South Korea
Landslides and floods kill 38 after worst downpour in nearly a century
(The Korea Times)
41 dead, 12 missing as heavy rains batter the nation
(The Korea Herald)