The Korean language, hangeul, was created by King Sejong the Great in the fifteenth century. The main reason behind King Sejong's masterpiece was his desire to improve the lives of his people.
Hundreds of years later, hangeul continues to serve its original purpose, only this time, the beneficiaries are not on the Korean peninsula but on a remote corner of Indonesia.
Some 70-thousand people of the Cia-Cia tribe in Bau-Bau City, located on Buton Island in Southeast Sulawesi of Indonesia,… adopted the Korean alphabet in 2009 to complement its spoken-only language.
A high-ranking official at the Indonesian Embassy in Korea says the Cia-Cia tribe may have chosen to use Hangeul instead of English letters due to the similarities between the two languages.
"Almost all traditional Indonesian language is threathened to extinction. And mostly why, because they are spoken languge. And that's when they started to find a way to keep their language alive. And I think that the sound of the spoken Cia-Cia language is similar to those of Korean."
Jung Deuk-young, the first Korean teacher to be dispatched to the city, has been working with students in Indonesia for the past ten years.
"I feel most satisfied when children that I've taught come back after days of practice, fully capable of reading and speaking hangeul. It's like seeing a baby take their first steps."
Jung also created the Korea Cia-Cia Culture Exchange Association in 2014.
The head of the association, Kim Hallan says she hopes the Cia-Cia tribe can be acquainted with a better life through hangeul.
"It's not just about teaching letters. We wish to provide a foundation for a new, better life for the Cia-Cia people, and allow them to get to know Korea better, as well as promote bilateral cultural exchanges."
"King Sejong invented hangeul to help improve the lives of ordinary people.
And in line with that, members of the Cia-Cia tribe are continuing their study of hangeul to fully preserve their culture, values, and traditions through written letters.
Kim Jae-hee, Arirang News."