Monthly Archives: January 2012

King Sejong and Hangeul

Have you heard about “King Sejong the Great” and “Hangeul”?

King Sejong the Great (May 7, 1397 – May 18, 1450, who was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea) profoundly impacted Korean history with his introduction of hangeul, the native phonetic alphabet system for the Korean language.

Before the creation of Hangul, only members of the highest class were literate (hanja was typically used to write Korean by using adapted Chinese characters, while Hanmun was sometimes used to write court documents in classical Chinese). One would have to learn the quite complex hanja characters in order to read and write Korean. Further, despite modifications to the Chinese characters, hanja could prove cumbersome when transcribing the Korean language, due to considerable differences in grammar and sentence order.
King Sejong presided over the introduction of the 28-letter Korean alphabet, with the explicit goal being that Koreans from all classes would read and write. He also attempted to establish a cultural identity for his people through its unique script. While creating the alphabet, King Sejong encountered opposition of courtiers. First published in 1446, anyone could learn Hangul in a matter of days. Persons previously unfamiliar with Hangul can typically pronounce Korean script accurately after only a few hours study.

Each hangul letter is based on a simplified diagram of the patterns made by the mouth, tongue and teeth when making the sound related to the character. Morphemes are built by writing the characters in syllabic blocks. The blocks of letters are then strung together linearly.

There was a drama called “뿌리 깊은 나무” which was about King Sejong and the origin of Hangeul. This drama won “The best Korean drama award”. I would like to recommend it if you are a huge Korean drama fan.

Some stories about our Japanese Courses 4

Hi everyone, 皆さん、おげんきですか。

In my classes, apart from regular learning activities of speaking, reading, listening, writing and dialogues making/speaking with use of the course books, the classes learned many verbs, their conjugation, esp. polite form, affirmative forms, negative forms, present tense and past tense, and use of the verbs in sentences. Many of the verbs (over 20 verbs) will be included in the Written Test of both classes this month after the classes will resume for this year.) (The written test is given at the final week of 10 weeks’ course in my teaching.)

Also, classes continued watching (and commenting) a DVD “Rekishi Kaido” (the info. can be obtained at It showed a variety of historical and beautiful (and even enlightening) places in Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, north-western part of Japan and the world’s longest and beautiful bridge built between Hiroshima prefecture and Ehime prefecture over a few decades ago.

Pre-Intermediate 1 class will have the Written Test on 9 Jan. 12, so the class did revision in the last lesson last month.

Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson


Honorifics in Korean

When talking about someone superior in status, a speaker or writer usually uses special nouns or verb endings to indicate the subject’s superiority. Generally, someone is superior in status if he/she is an older relative, a stranger of roughly equal or greater age, or an employer, teacher, customer, or the like. Someone is equal or inferior in status if he/she is a younger stranger, student, employee or the like. Nowadays, there are special endings which can be used on declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences; and either honorific or normal sentences. They are made for easier and faster use of Korean.

Honorifics in traditional Korea were strictly hierarchical. The caste and estate systems possessed patterns and usages much more complex and stratified than those we have now. The intricate structure of the Korean honorific system flourished in traditional culture and society. Honorifics in contemporary Korea are now used for people who are psychologically distant. Honorifics are also used for people who are superior in status. For example, older relatives, people who are older, teachers, and employers.

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January 2012
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