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October 9 is a public holiday in Korea marking the birthday of Hangeul, the country’s native writing system.
Hangeul was invented and introduced by King Sejong, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, in the 15th century, which makes it one of the youngest scripts in the world. It is also unique in that its inventor is known.
King Sejong’s goal in inventing Hangeul was clear: help commoners read and write. At the time, the educated elite were using classic Chinese letters – thousands of them -- to record the meaning of the native Korean spoken language. The king wanted to challenge their monopoly on knowledge by creating an alphabet that “a wise man can acquaint himself with it before the morning is over and a foolish one can do so within 10 days.”
With ease-of-use built into its design, Hangeul is recognized by linguists today as one of the most scientific, logical and efficient writing systems in the world. South Koreans take great pride in Hangeul and the country's near-100 percent literacy rate.