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Cultural exchange expanding Hangeul's reach beyond Korea as global writing system
Updated: 2021-10-09 12:22:38 KST
The secret behind BTS and Squid Game's success lies in Korea's unique culture and part of that is, of course, the Korean language and its writing system, Hangeul.
Marking Hangeul Day, our Han Seong-woo met with people who have passion to spread the Korean alphabet.
"Hangeul I Met" is an ongoing photo exhibition at the National Hangeul Museum in Seoul.
30 unique photos were selected out of more than 3-thousand entries from all over the world.

"From Mongolia to Bulgaria and even El Salvador, over 1,300 foreigners from 71 countries took part, each submitting a photo showing their love for Hangeul."

"Included in the selection criteria was whether the photo captured the essence of 'Hangeul in daily life' and whether it portrayed its beauty. How much they contribute to the spread of Hangeul culture and how much the photographers expressed their love for the Korean writing system were also considered."

The grand prize went to a woman from Egypt, who blended her love for the Korean writing system with her own cultural identity as a Muslim by taking a selfie wearing a hijab with Hangeul embroidering.

"It's been a while after I (first) learned Korean. It's been like five years. It's really fascinating and actually, I often try to learn it. I found out that I am really great at it."

Elsewhere, some foreigners even read their country's own folk tales in Hangeul.

"She waited for her grandfather to return but he did not, even as it got dark. Looking up from the forest, the stars were shining and the moonlight showed the way."

Azamova is one of several foreign nationals in Korea who say Hangeul has changed their lives.
The Sejong Center for Korean Language and Culture says the reason it's so captivating is that Hangeul can be learned by anyone and everyone universally.
Aware of its potential as a bridge between cultures, the center hosted a seminar on Tuesday to share the release of a new booklet explaining the story behind Hangeul's creation and how it works.

"We completed the booklet's English translation this year, which is why we held the seminar. Next year, we'll secure sponsorship deals to translate it into at least five, or perhaps even ten or more languages."

Efforts to widen Hangeul's reach have caught the attention of the Korean government, eager to spread K-Culture far and wide.
The Culture Ministry on Friday presented the Sejong Culture Award to those who contribute to globalizing Hangeul in their respective fields, including Hancom, the software developer that created a word processing program for the Korean language over thirty years ago.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.
Reporter : alicosell@arirang.com