FLY ! HUMINJEONGEUM: Power of Korean
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Hangeul is the center of the Korean WaveThe popularity of Korean pop culture in Asia and later the world that started from the late 1990s is called the “Korean Wave.”...
Hangeul is the center of the Korean Wave
The popularity of Korean pop culture in Asia and later the world that started from the late 1990s is called the “Korean Wave.” The Korean Wave, which includes our TV shows, movies, songs, cuisine, and clothes, is taking the world by storm. Here, BTS jumped into the scene following PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” BTS’s song “Butter,” ranking number one on the Billboard Hot 100, is sweetly melting the world. Not only are their clothes and hairstyles subjects of global interest, but also our culture’s grand bow that the group performed to give thanks to their audiences.
What enabled the Korean Wave?
I believe that Hunminjeongeum, therefore Hangeul, is the root of the Korean Wave.
Hunminjeongeum, which King Sejong created in secret to avoid the eyes of his courtiers obsessed with toadyism, has walked a turbulent road. Subjects opposing the creation of Hangeul protested “Objec- tion!” to King Sejong’s face, Prince Yeonsan burned all books writ- ten in Hunminjeongeum, and the Japanese banned us from using our language and alphabet to diminish our national spirit. Despite such adversities, Hunminjeongeum survived.
The first Korean immigrants to America pretended not to know Hangeul. Back then, English was the best language and Hangeul was
an embarrassing language from a small country. Now, things are dif- ferent. In order to be recognized in American society, Korean Amer- icans must know not only English, but also Hangeul. Hangeul gave them courage and raised them up in that society.
Hangeul consists of vowels and consonants. All vowels are from the three fundamental vowels, “· (Sky) ㅡ (Earth) ㅣ (Human),” and the rest are created from these three. The fundamental consonants that mimic the shape of the mouth when pronouncing words are “ㄱ,ㄴ, ㅁ,ㅅ, and ㅇ.” The rest of the consonants are variations of these by adding different strokes. There were a total of 28 vowels and conso- nants Originally. No word unable to be expressed by these 28 char- acters exists. How simple! Therefore, Hangeul is easy to learn and get used to.
Even while writing this I did not have a clear understanding of Hunminjeongeum’s roots. I just had a vague idea. However, I had an awakening after reading writer Park hae jin’s Road of Hunmin- jeongeum. I had only tasted the fruits of Hunminjeongeum without knowing its roots before. Therefore, I didn’t know its full taste. I was ashamed.I wanted to share the road Hunminjeongeum has taken with you. That way, we can understand our nation’s roots and take care of them.
When I met writer Park hae jin and shared my plans to rewrite Road of Hunminjeongeum for students, he consented readily. From that moment, I began selecting sources and writing. As I was writing, King Sejong’s words to Monk Shin-Mi and Prince Soo-Yang lingered in my ears: “Keep official records of the process. That way Hunmin- jeongeum survives Hunminjeongeum endured those difficult times with its courage to survive. Now it wants to fly the world with that same courage. That courage was also the reason why my student Elizabeth Chung read my book and wanted to translate it into English!
At the end of this book, from where my writing ends, Elizabeth’s writing follows. I wrote about Hangeul’s road up to the Japanese occupation and Elizabeth continues its stories from there on. As I know Elizabeth to be an avid reader since childhood and a talented writer.