King Sejong the Great (r 1418–1450)

“There will be no end to the troubles of the state or indeed of humanity until philosophers become kings or until those we now call kings really and truly become philosophers.” This is one of the most famous quotations from Plato. It is taken from his work The Republic, which in attempting to set out […]

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The World’s First Referendum – and its aftermath

by Matthew Jackson 8 August 2016
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Korea is a country of hidden wonders. These wonders, which have remained hidden in some cases for centuries, are continually being unearthed. Many have something to teach us about the world we live in today. The Sillok – royal annals that documented every day of the Joseon dynasty for the five centuries it governed Korea […]

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2015 Travel Diary day 3: Park Soo-keun, King Sejong’s tomb and the journey to Gangneung

by Philip Gowman 31 May 2015
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Myeongdong, Seoul, Sunday 31 May. Most of the morning I’m faffing around with my bags, working out what I can leave at the hotel in Seoul so that I can travel slightly lighter on the bus down South. For the first time I’ve brought an SLR to Korea with me to get some slightly better […]

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2012 Travel Diary #22: The Burial Grounds of the Royal Joseon Placentas, and why underfloor heating is not always good for you

by Philip Gowman 3 December 2012
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Sancheong Town, Gyeongsangnam-do, Sunday 1 April 2012. Yes, it’s 1 April, and no, this article is not an April Fool’s joke. Sunday in Sancheong town, and the National Assembly election campaign is in full swing. All along the main street, the ppongtchak trucks are parked nose to tail, probably about eight of them. All of […]

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Reading the Heavens Part 3 – The Astronomical Legacy of King Sejong

by Matthew Jackson 28 February 2012
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As mentioned in part 1, King Sejong presided over the zenith of Korean astronomical achievement. The construction of a large observatory at Gyeongbok Palace in 1438 – later destroyed without a trace in the Japanese invasion – played a key role in the country’s progress. On the roof were installed various astronomical instruments such as […]

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Raindrops over Joseon – Sejong’s Cheugugi

by Matthew Jackson 22 October 2011
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King Sejong is most famous for the creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul, which remains in use today. His whole career as king was underpinned by the philosophy that a king must serve his people, and this philosophy gave rise to many advances in science and culture that benefited the people of Korea. One less […]

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Sejong in the Snow

by Philip Gowman 2 January 2011
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Nice pic of the statue of King Sejong in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza covered with snow – in the Chosun Ilbo: http://bit.ly/gDHVz1 # Historical Figures: King Sejong the Great (r 1418–1450)

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Chongganbo – Sejong’s Musical Alphabet

by Matthew Jackson 1 May 2009
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King Sejong is most famous for his invention of the Korean alphabet. His other achievements, in social and legal reform, science and art, are less well known. The Chongganbo, which could be regarded as a musical alphabet, is one such achievement.

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