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Hunmin jeong-eum (document)

Published in September or October 1446, Hunmin jeong-eum (Hunmin chŏng'um) (훈민정음; 訓民正音) ("The Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People") was promulgated to the Korean people the existence of an entirely new and native script, which was initially named after the publication, but later came to be known as Han-geul. It was written by King Sejong the Great and scholars of the Hall of Worthies (Jiphyeonjeon). Its supposed publication date, October 9, is now Hangul Day in South Korea.

It is a basic text that contains a preface, the alphabet letters (jamo), and brief descriptions of their corresponding sounds. It is later supplemented by a longer document called Hunmin jeong-eum haerye. To distinguish it from its supplement, Hunmin jeong-eum is sometimes called the Samples and Significance Edition of Hunmin jeong-eum (훈민정음예의본 ; 訓民正音例義本).

The first paragraph of the document reveals King Sejong's motivation and reason for making the Hangul:

Our national language's sounds differ from those of the Middle Kingdom, so the scripts cannot be exchanged. As a result, my humble commoners -- those wish to write, but forever cannot express their feelings are common. I sympathize with this, so have made twenty-eight new letterss, which all people can easily learn, and conveniently use daily. (國之語音, 異乎中國, 與文字不相流通, 故愚民, 有所欲言, 而終不得伸其情者, 多矣. 予為此憫然, 新制二十八字, 欲使人人易習, 便於日用耳.)

The manuscript of the original Hunmin jeong-eum has two versions:

Kept in the Kansong Art Museum (澗松美術館), it is South Korean National Treasure number 70 and has been a UNESCO Memory of the World Register since October 1997.

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