I have never experienced roaming around a museum at night. But on the evening when the World Korea Bloggers were treated to a special tour of the newly opened National Hangeul Museum, I was reminded of the movie Night At The Museum, where Ben Stiller had to babysit everything that came to life after sundown.
But that night at the National Hangeul Museum, which sits right next to the National Museum of Korea in the Yongsan District of Seoul, everything, too, came to life! Not literally, but litera-ly!
(The National Hangeul Museum)
Yes, the consonants and vowels of the Korean language came to life that night as the Museum's docent walked us through the history on how hangeul came to be.
From 1443 when King Sejong, the Great, ordered his scholars to come up with his kingdom's own language, until the present-day use and recognition of Hangeul as a language everyone all over the world (especially Korean drama and K-pop fans!) can easily learn, the Museum engages any visitor about the language's history and transformation for over five centuries through dioramas, ancient scripts, digital presentations and artworks.
Appropriately inaugurated on Hanguel Day last October 9, 2014, the National Hangeul Museum provides a home for all the artifacts, information, and history of and about the Korean language. The Museum, which cost about KRW 32 billion to build, has a library, seminar room, halls for permanent and special exhibitions, a hangeul learning center, and a shop, and cafe distributed among its three floors.
As I walked alongside other visitors that night, I wondered whether this tour of a museum especially constructed for the Korean language was a sign for me to really make time for my Korean language books and classes. All these years of living in Seoul, I have enrolled in Korean classes and bought Korean language books. And all these years, I dropped out of those classes and my Korean language books have either gathered dust or are nowhere to be found. Ha-ha-ha!
King Sejong had the hangeul invented in 1443 and in 1446, the Hunminjeoneum, the first document that described the script and pronunciation of the Korean language, was published. Over the centuries, it was disseminated, transformed and modernized into what it is today. And on 2014, the Korean language has finally found a home, right in the middle of the Seoul (and right in my neighborhood!), after some 571 years.
So, if you're a student of history or a student at a Korean language class for beginners (like me!), let the National Hanguel Museum inspire you to learn this fascinating language which has its own set of symbols, vowels, consonants, and grammar.
King Sejong might not have had you and me in mind to learn the language when he first published the Hunminjeoneum. But after five centuries, don't you also think it's time we did?
* * * * *The National Hangeul Museum is accessible from Exit 2 of the Ichon Station (Line 4), and is open from 10AM to 6PM during the week, but extends to 9PM on Saturdays and 'culture days'. They offer guided tours and entrance is free.
Here's the official website of the Museum:
(Night visitors at the National Hangeul Museum)