(Source – South Korean Air Force)

Although Korean writing today is almost entirely Hangul exclusive (–專用, 한글전용), examples of Hanja (漢字, 한자) and Classical Chinese (漢文, 한문) occasionally still pop up in popular press. Above is a photo that has been spreading of a F-15K “Slam Eagle” fighter jet taken after a joint US-Korea exercise on November 19. The fighter jet is decorated with the phrase, “枕戈待敵 刻骨延坪(침과대적 각골연평).” It translates to “Lying with a spear and waiting for the enemy, never forget Yeongpyeong Island!” (Or literally, “carve on the bone, ‘Yeongpyeong.'”) The phrase was composed by Choi Chagyu (崔且圭, 최차규, 1956-), the current Air Force Chief of Staff. It is in reference to the shelling of Yeongpyeong Island, an island off the western coast of the peninsula, that occurred four years ago on November 23, 2010. The shelling resulted in the four deaths and twenty-one casualties, some of whom were civilians. The first four characters are taken out of Book of the Southern Qi Dynasty (南齊書, 남제서).

A few of the comments on Korean social media complained that non-Koreans will confuse the airplane for that of the Chinese Air Force or that Hangul should have been used. Fortunately, others have rebutted that the Chinese Air Force would have used simplified, that Hanja is just as part of Korean culture, or that it would take a lot longer to write the same meaning in Hangul. Regarding the first assertion, I would like to add that most non-East Asians will confuse the Yin-Yang (陰陽, 음양), which appears prominently on the Korean flag and is in the roundel of the Korean Air Force along with the tetragram for heaven ☰ (乾, 건) as seen in the photo, for a Chinese-only symbol anyway. Therefore, such arguments are pointless and nothing more than a sign of insecurity.


Hanja-Hangul Study - Brain Activation

One of the many arguments in the Hangul exclusivity (–專用, 한글전용) versus Hanja-Hangul mixed script (國漢文混用, 국한문혼용) relates to neurology. Mixed script advocates point out that Hanja (漢字, 한자), i.e., Chinese characters, is more stimulative for the brain and therefore better for brain development. (Hangul exclusivity advocates say it is too difficult for children without any empirical basis.) This assertion has now been tested by a Korean university in a recently published neurological study on Hanja and Hangul comprehension. Researchers conducted two experiments and took functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) images from brain of the test subjects.

The first experiment tested which parts of the brain were activated when Hangul and Hanja were presented to the subjects. There were twelve subjects, including six males and six females, with an average age of 28. The researchers used 150 disyllabic Sino-Korean words written in Hanja deemed to be of fifth rank difficulty on the Hanja proficiency exam (i.e., 500 characters) and 150 words written Korean words in Hangul. Subjects were presented these words in rapid succession: one word for each second in the first 30 seconds and then allowed to rest for the next 30 seconds. This process was repeated five times.

The fMRI images showed that when Hanja was presented, the Broca’s area on the left hemisphere, premotor cortex, superior parietal lobule, fusiform gyrus, and extrastriate cortex were triggered.  In contrast, when Hangul was presented, only the angular gyrus and the inferior frontal area were triggered. These findings suggest that Hanja and Hangul activate different parts of the brain. The researchers, however, cautioned on concluding that Hanja was superior to Hangul just because it triggered more parts of the brain. Instead, they explained that each script, one being logographic and the other phonetic, has its own characteristics. 

The second experiment tested the memorization of Hanja versus Hangul names. For this experiment, there were also twelve subjects, including seven males and five females, with an average age of 27. While researchers took fMRI images, the subjects were shown 40 names in Hanja and in Hangul, and then were asked to identify the 80 names in total mixed in random order 1 minute, 10 minutes, and 120 minutes after.

The task experiment data showed that subjects were much better at memorizing names in Hanja versus Hangul. With Hanja, subjects recognized names at a rate of 96%, 88%, and 79% out at each of the time intervals respectively. In contrast, with Hangul, subjects only recognized names at a rate of 52%, 28%, and 12% respectively. Researchers concluded that subjects recognized Hanja better than Hangul because Hanja is a logogram.

Based on the two experiments, the researchers reasoned that it is possible that since Hanja and Hangul trigger different parts of the brain, mixed script education might help students’ brain development.


Louxuan Poetry Collection

Wu Jiaji (吳嘉紀, 오가기, 1618-1684) was a late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty poet. He was born in Taizhou (泰州, 태주), Jiangsu Province (江蘇省, 강소성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Binxian (賢, 빈현); and his pen name (號, 호) was Yeren (野人, 야인). Wu Jiaji was from an impoverished background, and had very little to eat even during bumper years. Although he worked as a laborer, he enjoyed reading and composing poetry. When the Manchus invaded China, he joined the Ming loyalist forces fight against the Qing. During this time, he witnessed many atrocities committed by the pillaging Manchu army. After Ming loyalist forces capitulated, he decided to retire to his home village where he continued to live in solitude and in abject poverty. He wrote several poems, many of which portray in vivid detail the brutalities of the Manchu army. In his composition below, he describes one story from the Yangzhou massacre (揚州大虐殺, 양주대학살), which took place in 1645 after the city’s capitulation. His poems can be found in the Louxuan Poetry Collection (陋軒詩集, 누헌시집). Please do note that the following poem may be a bit gory. 

李家娘 이가낭

The Li Family’s Daughter-in-Law

乙酉夏, 兵陷郡城, 李氏婦被掠.
을유하, 병함군성, 리씨부피략.

In the summer of the Yiyou year (乙酉, 을유) (1645), [Manchu] soldiers took control of Juncheng (郡城, 군성) and the Mr. Li’s wife was captured.

  • 郡城(군성) – Refers to Yangzhou (揚州, 양주).

掠者百計求近, 不屈. 越七日夜, 聞其夫歿, 婦哀號撞壁, 顱碎腦出而死.
략자백계구근, 불굴. 월칠일야, 문기부몰, 부애호동벽, 로쇄뇌출이사.

The pillagers attempted a hundred times demanding her to come near, but she did not yield. When the seventh day’s night had passed, she heard that her husband had perished. The wife sorrowfully cried, striking [her head] into the wall. Her cranium broke and her brain poured out, leading to her death.

時掠者他出, 歸乃怒裂婦尸, 剖腹取心肺示人. 見者莫不驚悼, 感稱李家娘云.
시략자타출, 귀내노렬부시, 배복취심폐시인. 견자막불경도, 감칭리가낭운.

At that time, the pillagers were outside elsewhere and when they returned angrily cut up the wife’s corpse. They sliced her stomach, took her heart and lungs, and showed it to the others. Among those who saw, no one could not but be in shock and mourn. It is said that all praised the daughter-in-law of the Li family.

城中山白死人骨 城外水赤死人血
성중산백사인골 성외수적사인혈
殺人一百四十萬 新城舊城內有幾人活
살인일백사십만 신성구성내유기인활

Inside the fortress, the mountain is white with the bones of the dead;
Outside the fortress, the waters are red with the blood of the dead.
The murdered number one million and four hundred thousand.
Within the new fortress and the old fortress, how many men are alive?
First stanza.

妻方對鏡 夫已墮首
처방대경 부이타수
腥刀入鞘 紅顏隨走
성도입초 홍안수주
西家女 東家婦
서가녀 동가부
如花李家娘 亦落强梁手
여화리가낭 역락강량수

Just as the wife faces the mirror,
Her husband’s head has already fallen.
With the bloody sword having entered its sheath,
The red faced woman is pulled and taken away.
The west house’s miss,
The east house’s wife,
And the Li family’s daughter-in-law,
Altogether have fallen into the hand’s of the aggressive and raven.
Second stanza.

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Characters Permissible for Name Use to Increase

The Korean Supreme Court (大法院, 대법원) has recently announced that it will increase the list of Chinese characters permitted in Korean names (人名用漢字, 인명용한자) from 5,761 to 8,142 characters “to enhance the convenience of the people,” effective next year. The court first promulgated the list in 1991, only permitting some 2,731 characters to be used in names. Korean citizens were born after January 1 of that year could not have a Chinese character in their name that was not in that list. The explanation given was to limit the use of obscure, difficult characters and to allow for easier entry into computer databases. The original list, unfortunately, was extremely lacking. One family clan in particular was especially affected, because its incoming generation then had the generation name (行列字, 항렬자 or 돌림) of 禝(직, Jik), a character not on the list. They filed a petition to include it, but the Supreme Court refused until now. In addition, there were many instances where parents would pick a rare character with some special meaning for their child, but only to find out that it was not on the list. There are also a number of famous figures in Korean history whose names would not have been permitted, such as the character 睟(수) in Yi Sugwang (李睟光, 이수광, 1563-1628), a famous scholar.

This is not the first time the list has expanded. It was increased to 3,079 in 2003 and then to 5,761 in 2005. (Note that there are over 40,000 characters in the Kangxi Dictionary (康熙字典, 강희자전), the vast majority of which were rarely used if only once or are no longer used.)

Some of the characters that have been added to the list include:

  • 侔(모, mo) – To be uniform, even (가지런하다)
  • 敉(미, mi) – To stroke or comfort (어루만지다)
  • 縑(겸, gyeom) – A type of silk (비단)
  • 晈(교, gyo) – Moonlight (달빛)
  • 婧(정, jeong) – To be thin (날씬하다); to be chaste (정결하다)
  • 夤(인, in) – To be careful (조심하다)
  • 唔(오, o) – The sound of reading (글 읽는 소리)
  • 氳(온, on) – Vigor, spirit (기운)
  • 耦(우, u) – To travel in line (나란히 가다)
  • 姺(선, seon) – To walk (걷다)

As for Korea’s neighbors, Japan has had a list of Chinese characters permitted in names since 1948. The current list only has 2,997 characters. To my knowledge, there are no such limitations in China.


Gu Wanyu

Gu Yanwu (顧炎武, 고염무, 1613-1683) was a Ming and Qing dynasty era Neo-Confucian scholar. He was born in Kunshan (崑山, 곤산), Jiangsu Province (江蘇省, 강소성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Ningren (寧仁, 영인); and his pen name (號, 호) was Tinglin (亭林, 정림). Gu Yanwu was recognized from an early age for his intellect, but following his mother’s will he never took up any bureaucratic posts. When the Manchus invaded, he took up arms with an irregular army around Kunshan and almost lost his life on the battlefield. The poem below describes the brutal aftermath of one such battle. After he fled southern China, he roamed around northern China, reading classics and expanding his knowledge of geography, and spent his final years in seclusion in Huayin (華陰, 화음), Shanxi Province (陜西省, 섬서성). His interest in geography in particular is also apparent in the following poem. Even after his time with Ming loyalist forces, he did not support the Qing dynasty and refused Emperor Kangxi’s (康熙, 강희, 1654-1722, r. 1661-1722) attempt to appease the ethnic majority Han people (漢族, 한족) by inviting well respected Chinese scholars to the court. Gu Yanwu was also a prolific writer and composed several works, including a number on Neo-Confucianism. He heavily criticized the Yangming School (陽明學, 양명학) and also distanced himself from Zhu Xi’s teachings (朱熹, 주희, 1130-1200), and advocated a more practical and realistic approach to governance, forwarding the idea of “administrating the world and pursuing the pragmatic” (經世致用, 경세치용). Gu Yanwu laid out this in his work, the Record of Daily Study (日知錄, 일지록), a thirty two volume tome, on a variety of topics such as classics, history, politics, astronomy, geography, arts, and customs. He is considered the father of the Evidentiary School of Thought (考證學, 고증학), and one of the Three Great Confucians (三大儒, 삼대유) of the late Ming and early Qing period along with Wang Fuzhi (王夫之, 왕부지, 1619-1692) and Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 황종희, 1610-1695).

秋山 추산

Autumn Mountains

秋山復秋山 秋雨連山殷
추산부추산 추우련산은
昨日戰江口 今日戰山邊
작일전강구 금일전산변

An autumn mountain. Again, another autumn mountain.
Autumn rains over the connected mountains are thick.
Yesterday, there was a battle at the river’s mouth;
Today, there is a battle upon the mountain’s base.

Autumn • mountain • again • autumn • mountain
Autumn • rain • connecting • mountains • to be lush
Yesterday • day • battle • river • mouth
Now • day • battle • mountain • edge

已聞右甄潰 復見左拒殘
기문우진궤 부견좌거잔
旌旗埋地中 梯衝舞城端
정기매지중 제충무성단

I already heard that the right base has broken;
I again saw that the the left wing was slaughtered.
The standards and colors were buried in the ground;
The scaling ladder and battering ram struck the end of the fortress.

Already • to hear • right • flank • to break
Again • to see • left • wing • to die
Feathered flag • flag • to bury • earth • middle
Ladder • ram • to incite • castle • end

一朝長平敗 伏尸遍岡巒
일조장평패 복시편강만
胡裝三百舸 舸舸好紅顏
호장삼백가 가가호홍안

On one morning, Changping (長平, 장평) was lost:
Corpses faced down are all over hill and mountain.
In barbaric ornament are three hundred ships:
On each ship, there are beautiful red faces.

One • morning • geographic name • geographic name • to lose
To lay facing down • corpses • all around • small mountain • large mountain
Barbarian • ornament • three • hundred • ships
Ship • ship • good • red • faces

  • 長平(장평) – During the Warring States period (戰國時代, 전국시대), the town of Changping suffered a brutal massacre after the Zhao state (趙, 조) lost to the Qin (秦, 진). This event is referenced in Yangzi’s Model Words (揚子法言, 양자법언), eleventh chapter of Yuan and Quan volume (淵騫卷第十一, 연건권제십일):

秦將白起不仁, 奚用爲也. 長平之戰, 四十萬人死. 蚩尤之亂, 不過於此矣.
진장백기불인, 해용위야. 장평지전, 사십만인사. 치우지전, 불과어차의.

Qin General Bai Qi (白起, 백기, ?-257BC) was not benevolent. How was he used in action? At the battle of Changping, 400,000 died. Chi You’s (蚩尤, 치우) invasions did not exceed this [amount].

原野厭人之肉, 川谷流人之血, 將不仁, 奚用爲!
원야염인지육, 천곡류인지혈, 장불인, 해용위!

The plains and fields were covered with human flesh; the streams and valleys flowed with human blood. The general was not benevolent. How was he used in action!

  • 好紅顏(호홍안) – Literally “good, red face.” Refers to a beautiful woman.

吳口擁橐駝 鳴笳入燕關
오구옹탁타 명가입연관
昔時鄢郢人 猶在城南間
석시언영인 유재성남간

Wu country’s inlet is dirtied by camels;
The ringing reed pipes enter Yan Pass (燕關, 연관).
In ancient times, the people of Wan (鄢, 언) and Ying (郢, 영)
Still remained in the area south of the fortresses.

Wu • mouth • to be dirty • camel • camel
To sing • reed pipe • to enter • geographic name • geographic name
Ancient • times • geographic name • geographic name • people
Still • to exist • castle • south • area

  • 燕關(연관) – A passage near Shanhai Pass (山海關, 산해관) and Juyong Pass (居庸關, 거용관) in Hebei Province (河北省, 하북성).
  • 鄢郢(언영) – Wan and Ying were the capitals of the Chu state (楚, 초, 1030-223BC). Reference to another event during the Warring States Period after the Qin destroyed the Chu state, as recorded in the Strategies of the Warring States (戰國策, 전국책).

鄢郢大夫, 不欲爲秦, 而在城南下者百數,
언영대부, 불욕위진, 이재성남하자백수,

The noblemen of Wan and Yin did not wish to serve the Qin, and those who remained south of the capital were in the hundreds.

王收而與之百萬之師, 使收楚故地, 則武關可以入矣.
왕수이여지백만지사, 사수초고지, 즉무관가이입의.

If the King [of the Qi state] gathered and gave them one million of soldiers, they could recover Chu state’s old lands and then [our territory] could reach up to Wu Pass (武關, 무관).

  • Pentasyllabic ancient style poetry (五言古體詩, 오언고체시). This style does not adhere any tonal meter or follow rime strictly.

Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 황종희, 1610-1695) was a Neo-Confucian scholar of the Yangming School (陽明學, 양명학). He was born in Nanlei Village (南雷里, 남뢰리), Yuyao County (餘姚縣, 여요현), Zhejiang Province (浙江省, 절강성); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Taichong (太沖, 태충); and his pen names (號, 호) were Nanlei (南雷, 남뢰) and Master of Lizhou (梨洲先生, 이주선생). His father was Huang Zunsu (黃尊素, 황존수, 1585-1626), a famous literati bureaucrat of the Donglin Movement (東林黨, 동림당). In 1625, when Huang Zongxi was 17, all the members of the Donglin Movement were rounded up because of factional disputes, and his father was executed in prison the next year. Following his father’s will, Huang Zongxi studied under Yangming School Neo-Confucian scholar Liu Zongzhou (劉宗周, 유종주, 1578-1645). In 1630, he moved to Nanjing (南京, 남경) and participated in various scholarly associations. From 1630 to 1643, he took the civil examination (科擧, 과거) several times, but failed every try. When the Ming dynasty collapsed in 1644, he joined anti-Qing loyalist forces, and was almost killed on numerous occasions. At the age of 40 in 1649, he decided to retire and live in solitude. Thereafter, he devoted himself to studies, founded a school to teach students, and wrote many works. Huang Zongxi’s most important work is Waiting for the Dawn (明夷待訪錄, 명이대방록), in which he advocated for various political reforms famously stating, “Under heaven, [the people] are the master; the king is a guest” (天下爲主, 君爲客 – 천하위주 군위객). Due to this work, Huang Zongxi is compared to French philosopher Rousseau. Another of his important works was the Scholarly Survey of Ming Dynasty Confucians (明儒學案, 명유학안), which summarizes the various schools of Confucian thought during the Ming dynasty with a focus on the Yangming School. He also wrote a similar survey for Song and Yuan dynasty Confucians (宋元學案, 송원학안), but was unable to complete the work. In Korea, his surveys inspired the compilation of the Scholarly Survey of Eastern Confucians (東儒學案, 동유학안), published in 1970 by a student of the late Confucian scholar Ha Gyeomjin (河謙鎭, 하겸진, 1870-1946). Even after retiring, Huang Zongxi did not forget about his time assisting anti-Qing Ming loyalists, and derided the Qing dynasty as a “fake dynasty” (僞朝, 위조) and its emperors as “barbaric kings” (虜主, 노왕). In the poem below, he mourns after one of the resistance leader’s deaths.

哀蒼水 애창수

Mourning Changshui

廿年苦節何人似 입년고절하인사
得此全歸亦稱情 득차전귀역칭정
廢寺醵錢收棄骨 폐사갹전수기골
老生禿筆記琴聲 로생독필기금성
遙空摩影狂相得 요공마영광상득
群水穿礁浩未平 군수천초호미평
兩世雪交私不得 량세설교사불득
只隨衆口一閒評 지수중구일한평

For twenty years, he bitterly maintained loyalty. What other man will be like him?
He has obtained this perfect return; it also befits his passion.
At a dilapidated temple, I chip in money to collect thrown away bones;
This old living being and his stumpy brush record the zither’s tunes.
The distant emptiness rubs against the shadows, crazily in mutual harmony;
The clumped waters pierce the sunken rocks, greatly in discontent.
For two generations, this snow-white friendship was not at all private.
Only following the mouths of the multitude, there is one fair critique.


Twenty • years • bitter • fidelity • what • person • to be similar
To obtain • this • entire • return • also • to be aligned • sentiment
Ruined • Buddhist temple • to raise money • money • to gather • to throw away • bones
Old • lives • stumpy • brush • to record • zither • sound
Far away • empty • to brush against • shadow • crazy • mutual • to obtain
Group • water • to pierce • sunken rocks • widely • not yet • peaceful
Two • generations • snow-white • friendship • private • not • to obtain
Only • to follow • multitude • mouth • one • fair • criticism


  • Heptasyllabic regulated poem (七言律詩, 칠언율시). A not too common form of heptasyllabic regulated poetry, where the first line does not end in a rhyme. The riming character (韻, 운) is 庚(경).
  • 蒼水(창수) – Refers to General Zhang Huangyan’s (張煌言, 장황언, 1620-1664) pen name (號, 호). After Nanjing fell to the Manchus, he took up base in the Zhoushan Islands (舟山群島, 주산군도) and Shaoxing (紹興, 소흥). He coordinated attacks with Koxinga (國姓爺, 국성야, 1624-1662), and fought against the Qing for nineteen years. After Koxinga’s death, he attempted to retire and live incognito in solitude, but was ratted out and caught. Zhang Huangyan was executed in Hangzhou (杭州, 항주). Huang Zongxi presumably wrote the poem sometime after the General’s death.
  • 全歸(전귀) – Literally, “complete return.” Refers to the General’s maintenance of loyalty.
  • 老生(노생) – Reference to self in the third person. Used when referencing oneself that is at an old age to a superior.
  • 相得(상득) – Literally, “to obtain one another.” Refers to being in mutual harmony.
Hankyoreh - First Edition

Hankyoreh (한겨레), which can be translated in many ways including “The One Race” or “The Great Race,” is a newspaper that was founded with an expressly anti-Hanja stance. It is one of Korea’s leading progressive newspapers today.

This is one post in a series on Hangul Supremacy and Hangul Exclusivity. Hangul Supremacy (–優秀主義, 한글우수주의) is the widespread belief that Hangul is superior, especially in opposition to Chinese characters. Hangul Exclusivity (–專用, 한글전용) is closely related and refers to writing exclusively in Hangul. The purpose of these posts is to introduce Anglophone readers to the Korean debate over Hangul and Hanja. 

Hangul Exclusivity’s Basis in Pure Blood Theory

One of the many beliefs of Korean nationalism is the pure blood theory (純血主義, 순혈주의). According to this theory, all Koreans descend from one blood line (한핏줄) originating from Altaic peoples that settled on the peninsula and have been untainted by foreign races ever since. Hangul exclusivity and Korean linguistic purism were and to some extent are explicit and conscious applications of this theory: if the Korean race is pure, then should not its writing and language be pure as well? It is not a coincidence that the South Korean military dictatorship implemented Hangul exclusivity at the same time it heightened the pure blood theory. The string “linguistic pure blood theory” (言語純血主義, 언어순혈주의) is an actual term in Korean discourse on language. There are many problems with this theory — other than the blaring irony that there is no “pure” Korean word for the word “pure” (純–, 순하다) –, a few of which are discussed here.

This theory is fairly modern. It originates from Japanese colonial period, when the colonial administration attempted to propagandize Koreans into believing that they were the same race as the Japanese. After the liberation, both North Korea and South Korea adopted the theory kicking out the Japanese and continued disseminating it to instill nationalism and legitimize their rule. (South Korea has since mostly stopped, but North Korea still holds to this theory.) In contrast, in previous generations many Koreans acknowledged that they had ancestors from outside the peninsula. Although Korea was never quite a “multicultural” country as some of its neighbors, in their genealogy books almost half of all established Korean family clans recognize that they were descended from those who moved to Korea from China, Japan, Manchuria, Mongolia, Vietnam, and even Arabia. Historical records further confirm that there were periods of increased migration into Korea.

It is not just written, recorded history that is problematic for the theory. Recent genetic studies, which can peer back further into human history, have also undermined it. Although the pure blood theory is not entirely off in recognizing that there are actual genetic variations among races, such findings show that it is empirically false. For instance, the genes responsible for the “Asian glow” during alcohol consumption are most prevalent among the Chinese (southeastern Chinese, in particular, where it is thought to have originated), Japanese, and Korean, but drastically less so in other geographically proximate groups including Altaic peoples such as the Mongols. Conversely, the gene attributed to both dry earwax and lower sweat odor production is most frequent among Koreans (among whom it is almost 100%), Northern Chinese, Japanese, and other Northern Asian groups, but gradually less with groups further out from the region. (This might partly explain why many Koreans and other Asians today do not wear deodorant, as some ostensibly non-East Asian commentators have derisively noted.) These studies and others indicate that there was plenty of mixing between Koreans and neighboring peoples.

The contemporary Korean lexicon tangentially reflects this history: 60-70% of Korean words are based on Chinese characters, only 25% “native,” and the rest from other sources. This composition is also indicative of Hangul’s place. Hangul is provincial, primarily limited to one peninsula for only one language. Attempts to export the alphabet are quixotic. In contrast, Chinese characters, which are often portrayed in opposition to Hangul, are cosmopolitan. For almost two millennia, Classical Chinese was used among the intelligentsia in the Sinosphere. As late as the 1980s, most Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese could read one another’s newspapers and deduce the gist of any article. (Older generations of Koreans still can with Japanese and Chinese newspapers.) Today, the term “Hallyu” (韓流, 한류), meaning “the Korean wave,” quite frequently thrown around when discussing the popularity of Korean culture in other parts of Asia is of Chinese coinage.

Against this backdrop, it should be readily apparent that in an ever regionally integrated Asia, Hangul exclusivity and the underlying pure blood theory look quite out of place and outdated. While Hangul exclusivists continue to portray Chinese characters as in tension with Hangul and deride them as “anachronistic,” in the end it is they who hold the truly anachronistic belief. The creation of Hangul was no doubt a proud moment in Korean history, but it should be properly celebrated and the accompanying beliefs surrounding the alphabet ought to be reconsidered.


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