In such a circumstance where languages
and writings were doing different job from each other,
somehow it contributed to maintaining power of the ruling
class of those days even though they also felt uneasy
on this circumstance. Only persons belonging to the
ruling class were allowed to learn Chinese writing and
take a test for selecting officials, which was the entrance
to the higher society and the chance to grap political
power and/or economical benefits.
From the viewpoint of majority, the appearance of new
letters, which was easy for ordinary people to learn,
was hardly considered or even unwelcomed because they
enjoyed various kinds of vested rights based on that
structure. Considering this, it was a very striking
event in its political aspect that King Sejong invented
to contribute to a better
life for the sake
of ordinary people. Sejong
correctly predicted that the ruling class would dislike
and resisted new letters, so that he progressed it very
Since Sejong had to do this job in secret, it was not
easy to borrow hands of his ministers. Many people assumed
that Sejong and scholars of Jiphyeonjeon(ÁýÇöÀü) cooperated
to invent Hangeul or Sejong let the scholars create
Hangeul. But, those assumptions do not have any factual
grounds. The records of those days such as Sejong Sillok
or Preface of Jeong In-ji altogether emphasize that
Sejong created Hangeul by himself.
Some people can say, because a work done by ministers
could be passed to the achievement of King according
to customs in those days, such records were left. But
it is a prejudice without evidence as well. Throughout
the authentic record of Sejong(Sejong Sillok), the
expression "By himself(öÑð¤)" was used in only
Hunminjeongeum among many works accomplished in the
period of Sejong.
If the work was done by ministers under the order of
Sejong, then it was clearly addressed that it was the
work of ministers without exceptions. As the facts that
Sejong invented Hunminjeongeum by himself were addressed
clearly several times in authentic records and other
records, there should be proper evidences.
If we want to find people who assisted Sejong, they
were not ministers but the Crown Prince(á¦í, later Munjong)
and Suyang Daegun(âÏåÕÓÞÏÖ, later Sejo). The records in
preface of ¡ìûóÙëïáê¤æ»ýº¡í written by Shin Suk-ju, ¡ìòÁú°ÔÛíã§¡í in
¡ìà÷ÐÍÜËà»ßæó¢¡í witten by Seong Sam-mun say that Munjong assisted
Sejong to produce Hangeul.
And after invention of Hangeul, Sejong mobilized lower
class officials of Jiphyeonjeon related to Hangeul for
translation of ¡ìê¤üå¡í, which was the first work in public,
then he made the Crown Prince, Suyang Daegun and Anpyeong Daegun(Grand Prince Anpyeong)
supervise the work. Because the princes knew Hangeul
well, the work could be assigned to them.
However, as soon as lower class officials of Jiphyeonjeon
were mobilized, Choi Man-ri the head(Bujehak, Üùð«ùÊ)
of Jiphyeonjeon and other ministers presented a petition(Sangsomun,
ß¾áÂÙþ) to the king on 20th day of February, and tried
to stop the project related to Hangeul.
If the invention of Hangeul had been publicly processed
with mobilization of the scholars of Jiphyeonjeon prior
to December 1443, Choi Man-ri and the fellows didn't
need to wait to present a petition until February 1444.
Therefore the scholars of Jiphyeonjeon involved in Hangeul
project in February 1444 after Hangeul had been invented
Choi Man-ri says in his petition, "It is not right
that the King is taking care of Hangeul project that
is not so urgent, even when you needed medical treatment
for recuperation." Against this, Sejong showed
significant scholastic self-confidence through saying
"Do you know Unseo(ê¤ßö)? and Do you know Four tones(Saseong,ÞÌá¢)",
Seven sounds(Chireum,öÒëå) and how many Jamo(í®Ù½) are there?
If I don't correct the Unseo(ê¤ßö), who will correct it?".
According to these records, we can see that Sejong was
an outstanding scholar as he had deep scholarship of
Chinese phonology, based on this, had ability to analyze
our language precisely and to invent scientific characters
suitable to write our language. And also he had a strong
love to Hangeul, as he kept studied even being in journey
for medical treatment.
Sejong can be considered as the first one if we were
looking for someone who had scholastic ability to make
Hangeul in those days. Also we can consider what the
reason was for him to have strong love for Hangeul business.
Was it probably because he invented it by himself?