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Title The Korea Character - Hangeul
Name Standardmold
Date Time/Hit 2006-03-29 20:08:00 / 1758
Koreans have developed and use a unique alphabet called Hangeul. It is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world and has garnered unanimous praise from language experts for its scientific design and excellence.

Hangeul was created under King Sejong during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In 1446, the first Korean alphabet was proclaimed under the name Hunminjeongeum, which literally meant "the Correct Sounds for the Instruction of the People."

King Sejong, the motivating force behind Hangeul, is considered to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of Korea. Highly respected for his benevolent disposition and diligence, King Sejong was also a passionate scholar whose knowledge and natural talent in all fields of study astounded even the most learned experts.

When King Sejong was not performing his official duties, he enjoyed reading and meditating. He could also be very tenacious at times and would never yield on what he thought was right. Love for the people was the cornerstone of his reign (1418-1450), and he was always ready to listen to the voices of the common folk. He was a ruler of virtue, with the welfare of the people dictating all policy formulations.

King Sejong also established the Jiphyeonjeon, an academic research institute, inside the palace. Noted scholars from all academic disciplines gathered here to engage in lively discussions and also to publish a variety of scholarly books.

During his reign, King Sejong always deplored the fact that the common people, ignorant of the complicated Chinese characters that were being used by the educated, were not able to read and write. He understood their frustration in not being able to read or to communicate their thoughts and feelings in written words.

The Chinese script was used by the intelligentsia of the country, but being of foreign origin, it could not fully express the words and meaning of Korean thoughts and spoken language. Therefore, common people with legitimate complaints had no way of submitting their grievances to the appropriate authorities, other than through oral communication, and they had no way to record for posterity the agricultural wisdom and knowledge they had gained through years of experience.

King Sejong felt great sympathy for the people. As a wise ruler strongly dedicated to national identity and cultural independence, he immediately searched for solutions. What he envisioned was an alphabet that was uniquely Korean and easily learnable, rendering it accessible and usable for the common people.

King Sejong felt great sympathy for the people. As a wise ruler strongly dedicated to national identity and cultural independence, he immediately searched for solutions. What he envisioned was an alphabet that was uniquely Korean and easily learnable, rendering it accessible and usable for the common people.

Thus, the Hunminjeongeum was born. In the preface of its proclamation, King Sejong states as follows:

"Being of foreign origin, Chinese characters are incapable of capturing uniquely Korean meanings. Therefore, many common people have no way to express their thoughts and feelings. Out of my sympathy for their difficulties, I have invented a set of 28 letters. The letters are very easy to learn, and it is my fervent hope that they improve the quality of life of all people." The statement captures the essence of King Sejong's determination and dedication to cultural independence and commitment to the welfare of the people.


The Romanization of Korean 
(Ministry of Culture and Tourism proclamation No. 2000-8)

1. Basic Principles of Romanization

  (1) Romanization is based on standard Korean pronunciation.
  (2) Symbols other than Roman letters are avoided to the greatest extent possible.

2. Summary of the Romanization System

  (1) Vowels are transcribed as follows:
- simple vowels
273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_2.gif
- diphthongs
273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_3.gif

        Note 1 : 273308_1_4.gif is transcribed as ui, even when pronounced as 273308_1_5.gif.

        Note 2 : Long vowels are not reflected in Romanization.

  (2) Consonants are transcribed as follows:


- plosives(stops)

273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_6.gif
- affricates - fricatives
273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_7.gif 273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_8.gif
- nasals  - liquids
273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_9.gif 273308_1_1.gif 273308_1_10.gif


  Note 1 : The sounds 273308_1_11.gif and 273308_1_12.gif are transcribed respectively as g, d, and b when
273308_1_1.gif  they appear a vowel; they are transcribed as k, t, and p when followed by 
               another consonant or form the final sound of a word. 
273308_1_1.gif   (They are Romanized as pronunciation in [ ].) 


  Note 2 : 273308_1_14.gifis transcribed as r when followed by a vowel, and as l when followed by a
                 consonant or when appearing at the end of a word. 273308_1_14.gif273308_1_14.gifis transcribed asll.


3. Special Provisions for Romanization

  (1) When Korean sound values change as in the following cases, the results of those
       changes are Romanized as follows:

    a. The case of assimilation of adjaent consonants


    b. The case of the epenthetic 273308_1_17.gifand 273308_1_14.gif 


    c. Cases of palatalization


    d. Cases where 273308_1_20.gif and 273308_1_21.gifare adjacent to 273308_1_22.gif

273308_1_1.gif e.g.

  However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in the case of nouns where 273308_1_22.gif follows 
  273308_1_11.gifand 273308_1_12.gif, as in the examples below.


  Note : Tense (or glottalized) sounds are not reflected in cases where morphemes 
             are compounded, as in the examples below.


  (2) When there is the possibility of confusion in pronunciation, a hyphen "-"
        may be used.


  (3) The first letter is capitalized in proper names.


  (4) Personal names are written by family name first, followed by a space and the 
       given name. In principle, syllables in given names are not separated by 
       hyphen, but the use of a hyphen between syllables is permitted.


    a Assimilated sound changes between syllables in given names are not transcribed.


    b Romanization of family names will be determined separately.

  (5) Administrative units as 273308_1_30.gif, and 273308_1_31.gifare transcirbed
273308_1_1.gifrespectively as do, si, gun, gu, eup, myeon, ri, dong, and ga, and are preceded by a
273308_1_1.gifhyphen. Assimilated sound changes before and after the hyphen are not 
       reflected in Romanization.


  Note : Terms for administrative units such as 273308_1_33.gifmay be omitted.


 (6) Names of geographic features, cultural properties, and man-made structures may 
      be written without hyphens.


  (7) Proper names such as personal names and those of companies may continue to 
       be written as they have been previously.

  (8) When it is necessary to convert Romanized Korean back to Hangeul in special 
       cases such as in academic articles, Romanization is done according to hangeul 
       spelling and not pronunciation. Each Hangeul letter is Romanized as explained 
       in section 2 except that 273308_1_11.gif273308_1_12.gifand 273308_1_14.gifare always written as g, d, b and l. 
       When ㅇ has no sound value, it is replaced by a hyphen. It may also be 273308_1_1.gifused 
       when it is necessary to distinguish between syllables.

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