October 9th is when Koreans commemorate “Hangeul Day” or “Hangul Day” – whichever romanization one prefers – (Hangeul: 한글날). Hangul is the native alphabet of Korea and King Sejong is credited with its creation. Before 1444, Koreans used Chinese characters (or Hanja) to write its language and only the aristocrats could read and write Chinese symbols. King Sejong created Hangul so that the common people could learn to read and write their own language.
Hangul the alphabet is very easy to learn. I remember learning its phonics in about an hour. On the other hand, Hangul as a language is giving me the headache. Seven years and still learning. Oh well, I didn’t learn to speak Kapampangan considering that I stayed in Angeles City for more than 25 years!
The best place to visit to learn more about King Sejong and Hangul is “The Story of King Sejong” located at the basement of Gwanghwamun Plaza. We have been there a couple of times and there are new “gimmicks” every time we go there. We were there last night, after a hearty dinner at Myeongdong, and my son and I went there too two weeks ago.
Here are some pictures I took at different dates.
King Sejong’s statue at Gwanghwamun Plaza
The entrance to “The Story of King Sejong” is at the rear of the statue.
Body temperature scanner was installed last year during the height of the H1N1 flu.
The portrait of King Sejong greets visitors. Two weeks ago, we chanced upon a “gayagum” performance.
Widescreen TVs are displayed showing informative short videos and slide show about King Sejong and his achievements.
This Korean sundial was made during the reign of King Sejong. This huge replica of the 앙부일구 “angbu ilgu” is one of the center’s attraction. Kids and adults alike enjoy the mini-lectures about the sundial and the constellations.
There is also a mini-theatre showing the life of King Sejong.
My son enjoys this interactive touch screen program called “Digital Hangul” that is available in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. It has information on Korean food, entertainment, culture, etc.
There are also sculptures and other art works dedicated to Hangul.
Guests can also write their names in Hangul for free.
Here’s my son trying to write his name:
I just realized that I couldn’t find the pictures of King Sejong’s other accomplishments displayed at “The Story of King Sejong”.
A new addition to Gwanghwamun Plaza is “The Story of Lee Sun Shin” which is connected to “The Story of King Sejong”. There is 4D theater showing the Battle of Myeongnyang that is truly enjoyable. I learned about Lee Sun Shin through the Korean drama Kim Myung Min starred in.
Visiting “The Story of King Sejong” and “The Story of Lee Sun Shin” is an enlightening and inspiring experience. King Sejong was the third son and he was one of the greatest rulers of Chosun. Admiral Lee Sun Shin is the savior of Korea against the Japanese invaders during the seven-year Imjin War.
To go to Gwanghwamun Plaza, just get off at Gwanghwamun station on line 5. Entrance to “The Story of King Sejong” and “The Story of Lee Sun Shin” is free. There are personal audio players that can be borrowed at the information center available in English, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese.