A (very) late 2011 recap, part 1: Hangul Day


I had originally thought about publishing this and some other posts about Korean events that happened in 2011 before the year ended, but things were hectic and, well, I lost my flash drive with the cropped pictures. Better late than never, of course, but I feel a bit about being such a mess in the recent times. Anyway, let’s move on!

Small “shrine” to King Sejong

To celebrate Hangul Day in 2011, USP’s group of Korean studies got together with the Korea Foundation and the South Korean consulate to create the exhibition “Hangul, more than an alphabet“. The event took place in one of the university’s libraries and offered visitors information on the origin of Hangul, as well as showcasing some objects with Hangul characters, poems and kids books written by Korean authors and translated into Portuguese (great, but what about a few grown-up books, too?).

Korean kids books translated into Portuguese

The posters on how Hangul works (below) were not completely new to me, since they were the same ones featured in that cultural festival I attended months ago. That wasn’t a problem, though, because, in all honesty, I hadn’t read them before. =p

After going through them, I learnt a few things, like how the Korean language, with its 72 million speakers, is the 14th most spoken language in the world and one of the few to have its own writing system. Other interesting findings include the fact that the vowels were created based on three fundamental elements – sky, earth and man.

Seo Jeong-ju’s Beside a chrysanthemum; part of Yi Sang’s Wings; Kim Chun-su’s Flower

Of course, these facts can probably be found on Wikipedia (which has, apparently, a quite complete page on Hangul), but I do hate using the internet for reading/studying long texts – I get headaches -, so having the chance to check the posters out was quite fortunate.

Facsimile of Hunminjeongeum, the 1446 document that describes the Korean alphabet

But what I found really interesting was something else. Because of the wide range of sounds that the Korean alphabet can represent, it was deemed by linguists the alphabet best fit to render languages that have no written form. And, in fact, something like this was attempted with some of the inhabitants of Bau-Bau, a city located in the Indonesian island of Buton. Since the Roman alphabet cannot represent many of the sounds in the native language of the Cia-Cia tribe, Hangul was suggested as an alternative and teachers were even sent from Korea. Now, apparently the project was discontinued, but you can read more about it here and here.

A couple more pictures I took there:

Random objects embellished with the Korean characters


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