President Lee Myung-bak yesterday vowed to step up efforts to spread the Korean alphabet, Hanguel, abroad, and increase the number of Sejong Hakdang, state-run institutes established overseas to teach Korean.
"To help those in various countries, who wish to learn Korean, and promote Hangeul around the world, the government will increase the number of Sejong Hakdang," he said during a ceremony unveiling a new monument of King Sejong, the inventor of Hangeul, at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul.
"Hangeul, created by King Sejong, is the treasure of our nation."
Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to increase the number of Sejong Hakdang to 500 by 2015. Currently, there are 16 Sejong Hakdang in six countries, including China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Marking the 563rd anniversary of the promulgation of Hangeul, the 6.2 meter-high and 20-ton statue on a 4.2-meter-high pedestal was unveiled to the public in the landmark square, which opened in August as part of efforts to refurbish Seoul`s main streets with cultural charms and historic symbols.
Many citizens and government officials gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the seated figure of the revered king holding the Hunminjeongeum Haeryebon, the introduction of the Korean alphabet system, which was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1997.
"Admiring King Sejong means making a warm society and cultural powerhouse with creative and pragmatic spirits," Lee said. "That is our government`s philosophy and goal, and it will seek to enhance the welfare of ordinary citizens and increase the middle class."
Lee also referred to the Cia-Cia tribe in Bau-Bau city, located in Buton, off Indonesia`s southeast peninsula Sulawesi, which has recently adopted Hangeul as its official writing system.
"Hangeul is now becoming the new writing system of a community that does not have its own. This contributes to the cultural diversity of humanity," he said.
"We will create a cultural country where everybody can enjoy culture in nearby places, and which contributes to the development of culture of mankind while engaging in extensive exchanges with the world," he added.
At a separate ceremony marking Hangeul Day, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan said that the government will intensify efforts to preserve and promote Hangeul.
"The government will establish more Sejong Hakdang in many places overseas and help people of the world easily learn Korean through the internet," he said.
"The government will also pour efforts into preserving and managing our language and rectify the wrong use of the language in public organizations."
In front of the statue, a water clock, a sundial, a rainfall gauge and a celestial globe are set. In the underground passage right under the statue, there is a new exhibition hall that displays achievements of King Sejong.
By Song Sang-ho