Hunminjeongeum (Korean훈민정음; Hanja訓民正音; lit. The Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People) is (1) an old name for Hangul, and it is also (2) the name of a 15th-century historical document/book that introduced the principle of the creation and usage of the Hunminjeongeum.

Hunminjeongeum
Gansong Art Museum, Seoul, South Korea
The first page of the foreward written by King Sejong the Great
Also known asThe Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People
DateOctober 9, 1446 (government of Joeson)
Place of originSeoul, Joseon
Scribe(s)Hall of Worthies
Author(s)
ScriptClassical Chinese
ContentsIntroduction of the native Korean writing system Hangul
Korean name
Hunminjeongeum
훈〮민져ᇰ〮ᅙᅳᆷ
Hanja
Revised RomanizationHunminjeongeum
McCune–ReischauerHunminjŏngŭm
Korean name
Hangul
훈민정음
Hanja
訓民正音
Revised RomanizationHunminjeongeum
McCune–ReischauerHunminjŏngŭm

Hunminjeongeum was commissioned and supervised by Sejong the Great based on a writing system (Hunminjeongeum) he invented in 1443 and was published in 1446.[1]

Hunminjeongeum was intended to be a simpler alternative to the incumbent Chinese-based Hanja, in order to promote literacy among the general populace. It originally included 28 letters , but over time, four of those were abandoned, leading to the current 24 letters of Hangul.

  • The four letters that were abandoned[2]: ㆆ, ㆁ, ㅿ, ·

Sejong the Great ordered the Hall of Worthies to publish a book called Hunminjeongeum Haerye, which is an explanatory book for Hunminjeongeum.[1] A copy of the Hunminjeongeum Haerye was discovered in Andong, Gyeongsang Province, in 1940 after 500 years.[1] An original copy of the document is currently located at the Gansong Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea.[1]

In 1962, Hunminjeongeum Haerye was designated a National Treasure in South Korea[1] and was registered by UNESCO in the Memory of the World Programme in 1997.[3]

Gwanghwamun(palace) Geunjeongjeon(hall) where ‘Sejong the Great’ did his enthronement

History edit

Before Hangul, the Korean alphabet, was created, Koreans used Chinese characters to record their words.[4] Since Chinese language and Korean language share few similarities, borrowing Chinese characters proved to be inefficient to reflect the spoken language.[4] In addition, at the time when Sejong the Great was inventing Hangul the Ming dynasty had just come to power in China, which changed the pronunciation of Chinese characters, making it harder for Koreans to learn the new standard pronunciation to record their words.[5] The illiteracy level also stayed high since reading and learning Chinese characters was restricted among the ordinary people. They were generally used in official documents by the ruling class.[4][6] The ruling class took advantage of this and learning the Chinese characters became a symbol of power and privilege.[4] In order to make written language more accessible for common people, Sejong the Great started creating Hangul secretly, since the ruling class would be appalled by the news.[4]

Hangul was personally created by Sejong the Great, the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty, and revealed by him in 1443.[7][8][1][9] Although it is widely assumed that Sejong the Great ordered the Hall of Worthies to invent Hangul, contemporary records such as the Veritable Records of King Sejong and Jeong Inji's preface to the Hunminjeongeum Haerye emphasize that he invented it himself.[4] This is stated in Book 113 of The Annals of King Sejong (Sejongsillok) on the 9th month and the 28th year of reign of King Sejong and at the end of An Illustrated Explanation of Hunminjeongeum (Hunminjeongeum Haeryebon; Hunminjeongeum Haerye).[5] Afterward, King Sejong wrote the preface to the Hunminjeongeum, explaining the origin and purpose of Hangul and providing brief examples and explanations, and then tasked the Hall of Worthies to write detailed examples and explanations.[1] The head of the Hall of Worthies, Jeong In-ji, was responsible for compiling the Hunminjeongeum.[9] The Hunminjeongeum was published and promulgated to the public in 1446.[1] The writing system is referred to as Hangul today but was originally named as Hunminjeongeum by King Sejong. "Hunmin" and "Jeongeum" are respective words that each indicate "to teach the people" and "proper sounds."[5] Together Hunminjeongeum means "correct sounds for the instruction of the people."[10]

Versions and Content edit

There are three versions of Hunminjeongeum.



Hunminjeongeum Yeui is written in Classical Chinese/Hanja and contains a preface, the alphabet letters, and brief descriptions of their corresponding sounds.[12]

The first paragraph of the document reveals Sejong the Great's motivation for creating Hangul:

Classical Chinese/Hanja[14] 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
予爲此憫然
新制二十八字
欲使人人易習便於日用耳
Transliteration Kwúyk ci ngě qum / Í hhwo tyung kwúyk / Yě mwun ccó pwúlq syang lyuw thwong / Kwó ngwu min wǔw swǒ ywók ngen / Zi cyung pwúlq túk sin kkuy ccyeng cyǎ ta ngǔy / Ye wúy chǒ mǐn zyen / Sin cyéy zí ssíp pálq ccó / Ywók sǒ zin zin í ssíp ppyen qe zílq ywóng zǐ.

The Classical Chinese (Hanja) of the Hunminjeongeum has been partly translated into Middle Korean. This translation is found together with Worinseokbo: an annotated Buddhist scripture and is called the Hunminjeongeum Eonhae.[15]

 
Worinseokbo / Hunminjeongeum Eonhae
 
Preface of Hunminjeongeum
Hanja + Hangul[16] 귁〮ᅌᅥᆼ〯ᅙᅳᆷ이〮
잉〮ᅘᅩᆼ듀ᇰ귁〮ᄒᆞ〮야〮
영〯ᄍᆞᆼ〮로〮不부ᇙ〮샤ᇰ류ᇢ토ᇰᄒᆞᆯᄊᆡ〮
공〮로〮愚ᅌᅮᆼ이〮有우ᇢ〯송〯욕〮ᅌᅥᆫᄒᆞ〮야도〮
ᅀᅵᆼ쥬ᇰ부ᇙ〮득〮쪄ᇰ쟝〯ㅣ多ᅌᅴᆼ〯라〮
ㅣ爲윙〮ᄎᆞᆼ〯민〯ᅀᅧᆫᄒᆞ〮야〮
졩〮ᅀᅵᆼ〮씹〮바ᇙ〮ᄍᆞᆼ〮ᄒᆞ〮노니〮
욕〮使ᄉᆞᆼ〯ᅀᅵᆫᅀᅵᆫᄋᆞ〮로〮易잉〮씹〮ᄒᆞ〮야〮便ᅙᅥᆼᅀᅵᇙ〮요ᇰ〮ᅀᅵᆼ〯니라〮
Transliteration Kwúyk ci ngě qum í / Í hhwo tyung kwúyk hó yá / Yě mwun ccó lwó pwúlq syang lyuw thwong hol ssóy / Kwó lwó ngwu min í wǔw swǒ ywók ngen hó ya dwó / Zi cyung pwúlq túk sin kkuy ccyeng cyǎ y ta ngǔy lá / Ye y wúy chǒ mǐn zyen hó yá / Sin cyéy zí ssíp pálq ccó hó nwo ní / Ywók sǒ zin zin ó lwó í ssíp hó yá ppyen qe zílq ywóng zǐ ni lá.
Middle Korean[16] 나랏〮말〯ᄊᆞ미〮
듀ᇰ귁〮에〮달아〮
ᄍᆞᆼ〮와〮로〮서르ᄉᆞᄆᆞᆺ디〮아니〮ᄒᆞᆯᄊᆡ〮
이〮런젼ᄎᆞ〮로〮어린〮百ᄇᆡᆨ〮셔ᇰ〮이〮니르고〮져〮호ᇙ〮배〮이셔〮도〮
ᄆᆞᄎᆞᆷ〮내〯제ᄠᅳ〮들〮시러〮펴디〮몯〯ᄒᆞᇙ노〮미〮하니〮라〮
내〮이〮ᄅᆞᆯ〮爲윙〮ᄒᆞ〮야〮어〯엿비〮너겨〮
새〮로〮스〮믈〮여듧〮字ᄍᆞᆼ〮ᄅᆞᆯ〮ᄆᆡᇰᄀᆞ〮노니〮
사〯ᄅᆞᆷ마〯다〮ᄒᆡ〯ᅇᅧ〮수〯ᄫᅵ〮니겨〮날〮로〮ᄡᅮ〮메〮便ᅙᅡᆫ킈〮ᄒᆞ고〮져〮ᄒᆞᇙᄯᆞᄅᆞ미〮니라〮
Transliteration Na lás mǎl sso mí / Tyung kwúyk éy tal á / Mwun ccó wá lwó se lu so mos tí a ní hol ssóy / Í len cyen chó lwó e lín póyk syéng í ni lu kwó cyé hwólq páy i syé twó / Mo chóm nǎy cey ptú túl si lé phye tí mwǒt holq nwó mí ha ní lá / Náy í lól wúy hó yá ě yes pí ne kyé / Sáy lwó sú múl ye túlp ccó lól moyng kó nwo ní / Sǎ lom mǎ tá hǒi GGyé sǔ Wí ni kyé nál lwó pswú méy ppyen qan khúy ho kwó cyé holq sto lo mí ni lá.
Translation

Because the speech of this country is different from that of China, it [the spoken language] does not match the [Chinese] letters. Therefore, even if the ignorant want to communicate, many of them, in the end, cannot successfully express themselves. Saddened by this, I have [had] 28 letters newly made. It is my wish that all the people may easily learn these letters and that [they] be convenient for daily use.[citation needed]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Hunminjeongeum Manuscript". Cultural Heritage Administration. Cultural Heritage Administration. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "한글". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  3. ^ "Hunminjeongum Manuscript". UNESCO. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f ":::::::: 알고 싶은 한글 ::::::::". www.korean.go.kr. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Lee, Sang Gyu (Autumn 2007). "The World's Preeminent Writing System: Hangeul". Koreana. 21 (3): 8–15.
  6. ^ Pae, Hye K.; Bae, Sungbong; Yi, Kwangoh (2019). "More than an alphabet". Written Language & Literacy. 22 (2): 223–246. doi:10.1075/wll.00027.pae. S2CID 216548163.
  7. ^ Kim-Renaud, Young-Key (1997). The Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure. University of Hawaii Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780824817237. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  8. ^ "알고 싶은 한글". 국립국어원. National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Paik, Syeung-gil (Winter 1997). "Preserving Korea's Documents: UNESCO's 'Memory of the World Register'". Koreana. The Korea Foundation. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  10. ^ Lee, Ji-young (December 2013). "Hangeul" (PDF). The Understanding Korea Series. The Academy of Korean Studies Press. Archived from the original on March 9, 2021.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ "우리역사넷". contents.history.go.kr. Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  12. ^ a b "훈민정음(訓民正音)". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  13. ^ "훈민정음(訓民正音)". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  14. ^ "한국고전원문자료관". kostma.aks.ac.kr. Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  15. ^ "보물 월인석보 권1~2 (月印釋譜 卷一~二) : 국가문화유산포털 - 문화재청". Heritage Portal : CULTURAL HERITAGE ADMINISTRATION (in Korean). Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  16. ^ a b "StreamDocs". archives.hangeul.go.kr. Retrieved February 17, 2024.

External links edit