The Time before Hangul

Lenuel Morales
5/31/2022 7:27:42 AM
Before the 15th century, the preferred writing system in Korea was Hanja (漢字). These were Chinese characters brought over from Buddhist and Chinese literature. The Korean ruling class adapted Hanja to suit their needs. They used Hanja for their bureaucracies and literature. and official record-keeping. Adapting Hanja Hanja and Chinese characters are logographic. This means you can’t sound out the characters phonetically, as in Spanish, German, and English (sometimes). Many Chinese characters derive from illustrations, like the Egyptian hieroglyphs. A brief sketch of a bird means bird. In this Chinese script, 山 means mountain. Before the creation of Hangul, Koreans used Hanja in two ways. First, they used characters as is. Many of the elite could speak and write in Chinese. However, the Korean language was created and existed parallel to Chinese. Koreans wanted to preserve their uniqueness. They weren’t Chinese. Their words sounded different. So, the Korean elite decided to adapt Hanja characters o Korean phonetically.