King Sejong: Creator of the Korean Alphabet

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.