I should have written this on Wednesday, 9th October, which was Hangul Day in Korea. Hangul is the Korean script, developed 567 years ago to replace Chinese as the system of writing, and Hangul Day celebrates its invention, which is considered to be a significant achievement. As it says on one website I’ve looked at, ‘it’s easy to learn by children and foreigners’ – and I’m finding it much easier than Japanese.
It’s a phonetic script, with 24 basic letters and additional letters derived from the basic ones. An interesting feature is that it’s arranged in blocks, rather than linearly, so that all the letters that make a syllable are written in an imaginary square box.
The Korean language uses lots of words borrowed from English, so it’s common to work out how to read some Hangul only to realise that it says ‘banana’, or ‘bus’, or something of the kind. I’ll post some photos soon, but I don’t want to lower the tone of the photos of this post with photos of the side of my breakfast cereal packet or of cans of pork luncheon meat in the supermarket (you know the one).
Anyway, moving on, calligraphy is an important art, just as it is in China and Japan. In an event to celebrate Hangul day, I watched a calligrapher create the text in the photo on the left – in a few strokes he created on a canvas the name of one of the oreums (mini-volcanos) on Jeju, ‘Noro’.