Hangul Day


Evelyn Fraire

Every year on October 9th, Hangul Day is celebrated. It is a holiday that commemorates the Korean Alphabet. This means that it is a national holiday – a day off for all of South Korea.


King Sejong, the fourth king of the Chosŏn dynasty, in the year 1443, decided to improve literacy. He created Hangul in a way to promote the spread of knowledge, regardless of anyone’s social class. If you did not already know back in the day people went in order of respect based on their ranks. If you were the king or queen you would receive very high respect, but if you were just a commoner respect would not come to you easily. Since the year 1982, the Korean government has been grateful for King Sejong as well as the hard-won Hangul scriptures and designated October 9 of each year as Hangul Day, which is one of the five National Holidays.

What is Hangul?

Hangul is the alphabet system that is used for writing the Korean language. This system consists of 24 letters (it was originally 28), containing 14 consonants and 10 vowels. There is a difference in how the consonants and vowels look. The consonants are formed with angled or curved lines. The vowels are composed of vertical or horizontal straight lines together with short lines on either side of the main line. During the 15th century, Koreans used Chinese characters to write. These characters are known as “Hanja” and they are still occasionally seen in Korea. Writing with Chinese characters proved to be very difficult for many. As a result of this, only the elite people in Korea were literate.

How do people celebrate Hangul Day?

The people of Korea celebrate this holiday by taking off a day from school and work. Some people even go visit the museum of King Sejong. Many go to visit the statue of King Sejong as well as to admire the inventions of the Joseon era for which he is responsible. Inside the museum, you will find several exhibits that explain the creation of Hangul and the other technological advances of King Sejong’s reign. The era in which King Sejong ruled is often seen as a golden period of Korean history because this is where enlightenment and knowledge, instead of war and invasion, were the defining events at the time.