What is Hangul Day? What is its importance to Korea? Most importantly, how and when do Koreans celebrate it? This holiday serves immense importance to Korea and the identity of their culture. If you’ve been intensely curious about this deeply-rooted holiday, keep on reading!
With the Korean alphabet 한굴 Hangul (sometimes romanized as Hangeul) being invented by the 15th century monarch King Sejong in 1446 on October 9th, it has evolved into an unforgettable moment in history for the war-torn country. In Korea it is called Hangeul Proclamation Day 조선글날 (Chosun-gul-nal) and although North Korea utilizes the same name, it is celebrated on the 15th of Janurary. It has been recognized as a Korean national holiday and Red Day since 1970 (you can learn about many other Korean holidays by clicking the link!).
During the Joseon Dynasty, many people only used Literary Chinese to communicate both verbally and in writing. Due to the hardships of the lower class and the inability to learn so many daunting characters in the Chinese language, King Sejong worked to spread literacy throughout the country and its people by creating this simplistic alphabet whichs shapes are said to represent the pattern of a window and the symbolism for Yin and Yang. After King Sejong branched Korea away from the Chinese Alphabet which is refered to as 한자 Hanja, the first sentence ever made translates to “Our words are different from China.”
Now, Hangul is the common language among Koreans and a major part of history that Koreans truly clasp with pride and joy after the many years of countless colonization attempts by China, Mongolia, and Japan. But, How is Hangul Day celebrated today? Not only is it a favorable holiday for busy Koreans to plan their final vacations before the brutal winter approaches but it is also a day that many cultural events and unique tributes take place.
In 2021, the holiday fell on a Saturday and was recognized on the following Monday. One way the holiday was celebrated was through foreign K-Pop idols. In order to show their respect and compassion to the country that shows them so much love, FANTOO displayed multiple Instagram-like advertisements in the Sinchon U-PLEX Underground Mall. Each idol was displayed with an adoring phrase in Korean that represented them, their fans, and their groups. International idols shown in the project included Hitomi, Sakura, and Nake (IZ*ONE), Asahi, Mashiho, and Haruto (TREASURE), Sana (TWICE), Yubo and Yanan (PENTAGON), Lisa (Black Pink), Hendery, Ten, and YangYang (WAYV/NCT), Handong (Dreamcatcher), Yiren (Everglow), U (ONF), ViVi (Loona), BamBam (Got7), Minnie ((G)I-dle), Dita (Secret Number) and Niki (Enhypen).
Another amazing way foreigners can celebrate Hangul Day is through the many fun Korean language immersion programs and even Korean Speech Contests and “Korean Camp” held by programs like Korea K:ONNECT. This year, they held an online speech contest for fans of Korea all across the globe. Partcicipants made wonderful speeches in Korean and worked alongside private tutors to help them not only master their Hangul but also build a deeper conenction with the culture while learning Korean. The award ceremony was a wonderful event held online on Hangul Day to commerate the beauty of the language and encourage viewers to enjoy more of Korea’s rich culture and amazing language.
In 2009, an enormous bronze Statue of King Sejong was erected in Sejongno, Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul. Standing at approximately 20 feet, it is an iconic spot for Korean Tourism even today. Underneath the large golden statue there is a museum, which many people visit on Hangul Day with many exhibits explaining the creation of the language and technological advancements made during King Sejong’s time.
Now that you learned so much about this traditional holiday, what will you do to celebrate it next year? If you’re in Korea, definitely take the time to show your respect for the wonderful language and learn more about the holiday in the many unique ways shared above.