"Hangul" is the scientific and original Korean alphabet. The greatness of Hangul is well known to the world because among the world's alphabets its creator, date and how it was made is known. In fact, however, there is a long history of anguish and hardship behind Hangul, the use of which we take for granted today. When Hangul was created, the opposition of the aristocrats was so severe that it took a long time for it to become widely used. Furthermore, in the early 20th century, it was not easy to protect Hangul from Japanese oppression. Therefore, looking at works related to "Hangul" on the occasion of Hangul Day, on October 9, can make us feel more keenly the greatness and importance of Hangul.
"It would be good if everyone could write it."
<Chojeong-ri Letter (2007)>
One day during the Joseon Dynasty, Jangwoon, a boy living in Chojeong, goes into the mountains to cut wood as usual. There, a strange old man talks to him. He tells Jangwoon about the picturesque letters he sees for the first time. Amazingly, the new letters make it possible to write down everything they say. The old man even suggests that he would give Jangwoon some rice if he memorized the words, so Jangwoon learns the words excitedly. The old man and Jangwoon write the letters on the earthen floor and talk a lot, and their friendship deepens. But one day, the old man no longer comes to the forest. Jangwoon waits for him for a long time and finds a letter he had folded under a stone. "Jangwoon, I had a great time thanks to you. Let's meet again in the future. Until then, take good care of your father and live a brave life. Don't forget to write the letters and use them well." Jangwoon keeps the letter close to him. Thereafter, Jangwoon learns techniques to become a proficient stonemason following his father and gets a chance to go to Hanyang. Jangwoon gets to work as a stonemason at the palace where the king is located. He also gets a nickname "The Village School Teacher on the Earthen Floor" by teaching people the letters he learned from the old man in Hanyang. Meanwhile, there is a rumor going around that the king has made new letters for all people to learn. Will Jangwoon be able to meet the old man in Hanyang again?
King Sejong went for some recuperation in Chojeong, Cheongwon-gun, Chungcheongnam-do Province, after Hangul was created. Based on this historical fact is the "Chojeong-ri Letter" a beautifully woven story of Jangwoon, a poor low-class boy living in Chojeong, and the creation of Hangul. Jangwoon teaches Hangul, the new alphabet he learned from an old man, to those around him. They learn Hangul easily and gradually begin to use it. Through this, it is dramatically shown how Hangul, which is encountered by the people of the Joseon lower class as well as the women of the aristocratic class, changes their lives and leads them to a new world. In addition, through the conversations of the characters, readers can feel the agony and will of King Sejong by seeing the confrontation and protest between him and the gentry who oppose it. Also, the book contains texts written in Hangul in the 15th century, giving a glimpse of the alphabet in that period. Readers can think deeply about the significance of Hangul by reading this book, which is a fairy tale in the field of history that revived the meaning of its creation.
"Words and writings are vessels for the spirit of the people."
<MAL·MO·E: The Secret Mission (2019)>
In the 1940s, the Korean language is gradually disappearing. Pansu, who works at a theater, is let go from his workplace, so he tries and fails to steal a bag to pay for his son's tuition. The owner of the bag is Jeonghwan, a representative of the Korean Language Society— a group that is secretly trying to create a Korean dictionary and protect Hangul while avoiding Japanese surveillance —. Jeonghwan tells the members of the Korean Language Society what happened between him and Pansu. At this moment, one of the members, Gapyun, recognizes Pansu as his acquaintance. After hearing the news, he visits Pansu and makes him a new member of the Korean Language Society, but Pansu is illiterate. Jeonghwan is displeased that Pansu is both a thief and illiterate, but he is forced to accept him because the other members warmly welcome him. Instead of accepting Pansu as a member, he suggests that Pansu practice writing Korean. At first, Pansu doesn't understand the members of the Korean Language Society, who collect words rather than money, but soon realizes the importance of Hangul as he becomes able to read for the first time since joining. Also, Jeonghwan realizes the importance of "us" by watching Pansu who works hard on "MAL-MO-E," which collects dialects from all over the country. However, the surveillance of the Japanese colonial era become increasingly harsh. Will the members of the Korean Language Society be safe from the Japanese police? And can they protect Hangul safely?
This movie is an adaptation of the real history of Korea. That is, it is produced by reorganizing, including the dramatic situations, and actual events follow a little. First, the main character, Kim Pansu, is a fictional character created for the movie. However, Ryu Jeonghwan is based on the independence activist Lee Geukro. Also, the Korean Language Society in the movie is an organization that actually existed, but in the movie, there were 7 members, while in reality there were 33. In addition, there is a scene where the Korean Language Society put an advertisement in the magazine "Hangul" to collect dialects from all over the country, which actually happened. As in the movie, the actual manuscript was found at Gyeongseong Station (currently Seoul Station). In the movie, Pansu, who was chased by the Japanese police, hide the manuscript at Gyeongseong Station. However, in reality, what Japanese imperialism lost due to their carelessness while confiscating this manuscript from Korean scholars and transferring it to the High Court as evidence was found in a warehouse of Joseon Express in the Station. Besides these, there are more adaptations that were made just for the film. Although the contents of the movie and the actual events are somewhat different, it is true that watching this movie makes people realize the importance of Hangul. On Hangul Day, this movie makes Koreans feel grateful for their ancestors' efforts. After watching this movie, it is satisfying to look up the real story and remember the history of Korea.
Oh Song Minyeong / Reporter
Park Gil Yeonseo / Reporter