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The Five-Hundred-Year Delay of the Official Adoption of Hangeul : Why the Chosun Dynasty might be less blamable than we think

Kim,Hee-Sook 1

1청주대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Many linguists have praised Hangeul as one of the most scientific languages. However, it took five hundred years for Hangeul to become officially adopted as the writing system in Korea. Some have attributed this delay to social factors such as the persecution against Hangeul users or the resistance to Hangeul by ruling classes who endorsed Chinese characters. These social factors, however, fall short of explaining the five centuries' delay of the official adoption of Hangeul. This paper aims to explain the delay by considering the early Christians' embracement of codex in writing letters they used to communicate among themselves in the Roman Empire as well as McLuhan's well-known idea that “media is message”. In the past, the media kept using Hangeul suitable to the Chinese characters, although Hangeul was a new and different message from the latter. This paper suggests that in order to understand more clearly why it took five centuries to officially adopt Hangeul, we have to take into account the fact that until the late nineteenth century, Hangeul, a phonogram - new message - was written in the media appropriate to the Chinese characters, an ideogram - old message, which caused a typical incongruity between message and media to discourage Koreans to use Hangeul.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.