Boundless Value of Hangeul
The Korean society around 1980 was extremely chaotic, and I, after wandering around with lost identity, newly discovered the value of Hangeul and ‘Hunminjeongeum’ only after the age of twenty. My interest in abstract art led to interest in the abstraction of letters (文字抽象) that condensed poems (詩), letters (書) and drawings (畵) in one, and abstraction and art of letters dragged me once again to my mother tongue letters of Hangeul. The process in which I became absorbed in Hangeul and ‘Hunminjeongeum’1 was a struggle, which was deemed to identify where I came from and where I have to go.
The design philosophy and logic of Hunminjeongeum fall into place profoundly and ‘boundlessly’, but the reality was different for Hangeul. The typeface and application system as well as users’ perception of Hangeul were disorganized, unfocused and complicated. The core value of ‘Hunminjeongeum’ accomplished by Sejong Yi Do over 500 years ago was paling into insignificance, and the renamed ‘Hangeul’2 was nearly thrown out and abandoned. While identifying these facts, I felt infinitely miserable and ashamed to be wandering around the edges of graphic art. Realizing that I could not bear to leave things as is, I resolved to stand on my own by first bringing life back to Hangeul.
That was how I have spent over the last 30 years, but still the true value of Hangeul has not been properly revealed. The typeface of Hangeul has merely broken away from the square frame, seeing only the shell while overlooking the substance. Even in the process of producing, transporting and consuming text information, blockages and tangles still remain in various places. To remedy these problems of Hangeul, I have presented alternatives in multiple directions and fulfilled a few practical actions. Furthermore, I am constantly seeking new ways to enjoy multiple values of Hangeul that I have heard of and discovered so far, close to our daily lives. This is to fulfill the philosophy of making Hangeul ‘easier, more convenient and more useful’, which is the core value of Hangeul design, and to prove that ‘the logic of sound, typeface and meaning is all connected in one’.
Bringing life to the boundless value of Hangeul is an interesting challenge to link the communication system with a single logic, which is also paving a shortcut to a more beautiful and righteous world.
June 3, 2015 Jae-joon Han
‘Hunminjeongeum (訓民正音)’ indicates ‘Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People’, and it is the title of the book written by King Sejong (Yi Do) in the 1440s. It is also the letter system to mark the Korean language that is later referred to as Hangeul described in the book.
‘Hangeul’ originates from the word ‘Han’ that is the proper word meaning ‘big’, ‘right’ and ‘one’, and it is known to have been used by Hangeul scholar Ju Si-gyeong in the 1910s. North Korea refers to it as ‘Joseongeul’.