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Hunmin Jeongeum (document)

From Academic Kids

Template:Koreanname Published in September or October 1446, Hunmin Jeongeum (lit. The Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People) was promulgated to the Korean people the existence of an entirely new and native script, which was initially named after the publication, but later came to be known as Hangul. It was written by King Sejong the Great and scholars of the Hall of Worthies (Jiphyeonjeon). Its supposed publication date, October 9, is now Hangul Day in South Korea.

It is a basic text that contains a preface, the alphabet letters (jamo), and brief descriptions of their corresponding sounds. It is later supplemented by a longer document called Hunmin Jeongeum Haerye. To distinguish it from its supplement, Hunmin Jeongeum is sometimes called the "Samples and Significance Edition of Hunmin Jeongeum" (훈민정음예의본 ; 訓民正音例義本).

The first paragraph of the document reveals King Sejong's motivation and reason for making the Hangul:

Our national language's sounds differ from those of the Middle Kingdom, so the scripts cannot be exchanged. As a result, my humble commoners -- those wish to write, but forever cannot express their feelings are common. I sympathize with this, so have made twenty-eight new letters, which all people can easily learn, and conveniently use daily. (國之語音, 異乎中國, 與文字不相流通, 故愚民, 有所欲言, 而終不得伸其情者, 多矣. 予為此憫然, 新制二十八字, 欲使人人易習, 便於日用耳.)

The manuscript of the original Hunmin Jeongeum has two versions:

  • Seven pages of Hanja and written in Classical Chinese, except where the Hangul symbols are mentioned. Three copies are left:
    • The one found at the beginning of the Haerye copy
    • The one included in Sejong Sillok (世宗實錄; "The Sejong Chronicles"), Volume 113.
  • Another, 36 pages, extensively annotated in Hangul, and all Hanja used have their Hangul counterpart written smaller immediately below them slightly to the right. The Hangul were written in both ink-brush and geometric styles. Four copies are left:
    • At the beginning of Weorin Seokbo (月印釋譜), an annotated Buddhist scripture
    • One preserved by Park Seungbin
    • One preserved by Kanazawa, a Japanese
    • One preserved by the Japanese Ministry of Royal Affairs

Kept in the Kansong Art Museum (澗松 美術館), it is South Korean National Treasure number 70 and has been a UNESCO Memory of the World Register since October 1997.

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