Sunday, January 03, 2010


Statue of King Sejong(Deoksugung Palace)

On the grounds of Deoksugung Palace proudly sits the statue of King Sejong(r. 1418-1450). Born in 1397, he is widely regarded as one of Korea's greatest kings during the Joseon Dynasty(1393-1910) and is renowned for his cultural achievements, as well as improving the welfare of the Korean people.

His mastery of Confucian doctrine enabled him to successfully deal with the yangban scholars on an equal footing and he was resposible for a number of progressive ideas in administration, health, science and medicine.

During his reign he brought in many reforms relating to land tax and health, to improve the living conditions of his subjects, as well as establishing the Jiphyeonjeon (The Hall of Worthies). Comprised of twenty of the foremost scholars of the time, they were able to devote their full time to study, in order to promote research in institutional traditions and politico-economics.

Committed to improving the intellectual wellbeing of his people, he is probably most famous for creating the Korean Hangul alphabet. At the time of his reign, the Chinese alphabet was used to document the Korean language and with its thousands of different characters, learning it provided a difficult task.

Based on a phonemic system consisting of 11 vowels and 17 consonants, it has since been reduced to 24 letters consisting of 10 vowels and 14 consonants.

When introduced in 1446, there was initially some resistance from scholars as it might limit the study of Confucian texts. However, King Sejong remained firm in his belief, paving the way for improved literacy and better education amongst the population.

Towards the end of his life he suffered from paralysis, which affected his motor skills and left him unable to speak. He finally died in 1450 at the age of 52, after developing cancer.


Here is a short film of Deoksugung Palace.


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