A holiday commemorating the creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul, is being observed Monday, Oct. 9.
A linguistic milestone: Hangul Day, also known as Korean Alphabet Day, is an annual celebration of the Korean alphabet’s invention and proclamation.
Introduced in 1446 by King Sejong, the groundbreaking script was designed to address the complex nature of writing in Korean, previously reliant on Chinese characters. Now composed of 24 letters (14 consonants and 10 vowels), Hangul has earned international recognition for its logical and phonetic structure.
Historical resilience: Despite its profound impact, Hangul faced adversity throughout its history. The Choson dynasty saw elites favoring Chinese characters, leading to a temporary ban on Hangul. However, it experienced a resurgence in the 19th century and played a pivotal role in Korean nationalism during the Japanese occupation. By the 1970s, the use of Chinese characters declined, solidifying Hangul as the predominant writing system in Korea.
The evolution of Hangul Day: Since its initial establishment in 1926, the date for Hangul Day has shifted. In 1945, South Korea officially designated October 9 as Hangul Day, aligning it with the proclamation of Hangul. However, from 1991 to 2012, this status was revoked due to pressures from employers to increase workdays. On Nov. 1, 2012, it was reinstated as a national day.
Today, celebrations for Hangul Day vary among Koreans. While many use the holiday to spend time with loved ones, others choose to visit the King Sejong Museum in Seoul.
In North Korea
, Hangul Day is known as Chosun-gul Day and is celebrated on Jan. 15.
L.A. resolution: On Oct. 6, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing Oct. 9 as Hangul Day. The resolution was introduced by Korean American Councilmember John Lee (12th District) and was followed by a special proclamation ceremony to honor Hangul Day.
The ceremony saw the participation of more than 300 individuals, including Councilmember Heather Hutt, Chairman of the Imperial Cultural Foundation Lee Seok, Consul General Youngwan Kim, LA Korean Education Center Director Jeonhoon Kang, President Monica Ryoo of the Foundation for Korean Language & Culture in the U.S.A. as well as Korean language class students from Chatsworth High School.
Google’s tribute: This year, Hangul Day also received a global nod as Google featured a special Doodle to celebrate. The Doodle highlights the significance of Hangul not only as a cultural milestone but also as a symbol of empowerment through literacy.