Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hangul, the Korean Alphabet

Fig.1: Korea's two biggest contributions to culture. You 
decide which one is more important.
Many nations take a lot of pride in some of their own innovations. Canada loves their sport of ice hockey, and lately have been unwilling to share their gold metals with anyone else. Argentina lives to make people feel uncoordinated and uncomfortable with their tango dancing. Even India celebrates their invention of the number zero during the Gupta period by having nine of them when their population is rounded down. But perhaps one of the most interesting and original creations from any culture occurred in Korea in the 15th century: Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Unlike many other writing systems that were either developed over a long period of time or largely adapted from another, Hangul was specifically designed to match the Korean language. The alphabet has become so revered in the peninsula that its creator is considered a legendary hero, a national holiday commemorates its implementation, and its use is one of the few things that North and South Korea agree about. That alone makes Hangul worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize!