The Korean Alphabet known as ‘Hangul’ is widely believed to have been invented by the fourth King of the Joseon Dynasty, Sejong the Great. The project was completed by around 1444 and first published in 1446 in a text known as the ‘Hunmin jeong-eum’ [훈민정음 해] or ‘The Proper Sounds for the Education of the People’.
King Sejong is said to have created the script fearing that the majority of his population were illiterate, as the national language was based on Chinese characters and therefore restricted to aristocratic males. ‘Hangul’ was designed to allow the masses the pleasure to read and write.
As Sejong states in the preface to his work, “A wise man can acquaint himself with it before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn it in the space of ten days.” After his death King Sejong left a great legacy and is still revered today for providing the nation with a greater sense of national identity, away from the clutches of the Chinese cultural sphere.
However, with Dr Lee’s new claims surfacing that Sejong’s script was based on ancient findings inscribed on Chinese ‘knife money’, will his legacy be shattered or will the nation reject the scholars findings? This topic has sparked hot debate across Korea and indeed China, featuring heavily on this week’s news sites and blogs. Much online controversy has stemmed from the national identity debate, with the Chinese revelling in these findings and claiming once more that Korea is a part of China.
Dr Lee Chan Gu: Hangul discovered on Ancient Knife Money.
It has been claimed that the Korean Alphabet ‘Hangul’ has been discovered in use from 3000 years ago. A leading expert in ancient writing Dr Lee Chan Gu has found examples of the ‘Hangul’ script on an ancient form of Chinese currency known as ‘knife money’. In his new study, Dr Lee claims that ‘knife money’ dated from the middle or end of the Spring and Autumn Period in China have examples of ‘Hangul’ on the pointed head of the knives. Dr Lee is said to have made the discovery of an inscription of ‘Hangul’ on Chinese Knife money in two ancient Chinese texts and an article ‘Xu Quan Hui’, published in 1875.
However, at the time of discovery, the scholars of ancient Chinese classified these characters as ‘unidentifiable’. Lee notes that they cannot be treated as the Chinese charcters ‘Hanzi’ and are clearly identifiable as part of the Korean script ‘Hangul’. Dr Lee estimates that the characters ‘돈’ and ‘노’ were inscribed on ‘money knives’ cast in the State of Guzhu some 3,600 years ago by pre-ancestors of the Korean tribe.
In his findings, Dr Lee refers to a Chinese language document which gave a slight explanation of the new Korean writing system. He notes that there “is a passage in the introduction to the Hunminjeongeum that notes that Hangul is an imitation of ancient Korean characters; a confession from King Sejong, who states that his creation of the Korean alphabet was modelled on existing letters used by his Korean forefathers.” Lee, however, is adamant that his findings are in no way intended to discredit the work of King Sejong. He is resolute that his findings will finally prove that the Korean alphabet system were made through the restoration of Ancient Korean and not related to Mongolian or the scripts of other Ancient States.
Comments from Naver:
Sejong, You bastard! Such plagiarism!
You’re just writing this stuff to sell a book- give me a break!
Sejong would reincarnate himself just from looking at this article!!
Seems like he didnt go to elementary school! A Doctor without any common sense!!
Whether this is true or not, it seems like a mistake to make such a decision based on just 2 characters!!
Because of collaborators in the late Choson Dynasty who stole our culture, it seems like history of 21st Century Korea will also be stolen!!
Why is our history so short, when we only lived as a Japanese colony for 30 years???!
A few markings are really the ‘Hangul’ of our ancestors?!
How do we know if that even means ‘money’. I want to go and ask someone from that time!!
Then Sejong is just one of our nations imposters?!
Sejong is a crook!!
Didn’t 15th Century Joseon also claim to have created the alphabet?!
Seems a bit far fetched!!
3000 years.. Let us not try and distort history! Let us not be like China!!
Comments from Wenxue City (in Chinese):
So now it’s clear that King Sejong didn’t invent Hangul and just copied the script from an Ancient Chinese text to deceive people!
Look at Korea ten years ago; they had clearly inherited China’s qualities: subtlety, patience and stubbornness. So 3000 years ago Korea must have been a part of China!
If it really is Korean, then its fair to say that at that time Korea was just a subsidiary of China. They didn’t have their own money, they used China’s! Its just like today, where the script of ‘minorities’ is written on Chinese bank notes!
Didn’t the American Mars Rover also find Korean script?!
This just goes to show that Koreans have always been a Chinese ethnic minority!
Koreans say: One day we will land on the sun! Americans will respond: Its far too hot- you wont be able to land! Koreans will respond with: We’ll land there at night!!