Hangul Day

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Akdong Musician's "Like Ga Na Da":

See the Wikipedia article if you're not already familiar with the Hangul writing system. And Hangul Day on October 9 is really a thing.

Alex Baumans writes that "I don't think any other alphabet has such a catchy theme song".


  1. Nick said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 7:35 am

    We followed the cadence of the Fraggle Rock theme song when I was taught Hangul.

  2. Anthony said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

    I hope James D. McCawley's tradition of Hangul Day parties has lived on somewhere.

  3. Robert Ramsey said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

    Oh, yes, Anthony, we at the University of Maryland have been celebrating Hangul Day every year for over twenty years now. Every year, I give a brief introductory talk; a well-known Hangul calligrapher gives a demonstration and lesson; drummers, dancers, pansori singers, or other performers perform; students sing and/or do K-Pop dances; and there's always a Korean buffet. Many faculty and staff attend, but mostly students–always for the buffet, of course.

  4. Jongseong Park said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

    In the video, you can spot some obscure Korean expressions included in the lyrics such as 느영나영 neuyeongnayeong and 시나브로 sinabeuro (at the 1:52 mark). The latter I was familiar with, meaning "slowly and imperceptibly", but I had not heard of the former.

    The dictionary was no help, so I searched on Google. It turns out that 느영 나영 neuyeong nayeong is Jeju dialect for the standard 너랑 나랑 neorang narang "you and I/me (together)". In the video, it is glossed as "너와 나. 두 사람을 일컫는 말.(You and I/me. A word referring to the two.)" without any indication that it is a Jeju dialect expression. The Jeju dialect, traditionally spoken on Jeju Island off the south coast of the Korean peninsula, is highly divergent from the mainland dialects of Korean and is sometimes considered its own language. But is unfortunately moribund as hardly any young speakers grow up speaking it.

    These examples were chosen because they are "pure" Korean vocabulary, as opposed to Sino-Korean or other loanwords. Most Koreans don't distinguish the Korean language and the writing system, so to them it makes complete sense for Hangul Day to be about campaigning against whatever you think is ailing the Korean language like excessive loanwords, bad grammar, or slang, and promoting seldom-used native expressions like 시나브로 sinabeuro.

    At the end of the video you'll see the name of the corporate sponsor, because this is in fact a bit of a Hangul Day public campaign video in the venerable tradition where the day isn't so much about celebrating the alphabet itself as about airing your pet peeves about "crimes" against the language. But this song is much better than most of those campaign videos in actually focusing on the alphabet (reciting 가나다 ga na da to begin with) and having fun, clever lyrics that are not too preachy.

    Though if we're talking about catchiness, it might be hard to beat The Jackson 5's "ABC"…

  5. David Morris said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

    Because Chuseok felll so late this year, we've had three public holidays in two weeks (Chuseok 26-29 Sep, National Foundation Day 3 Oct and Hangeul Day 9 Oct, with a non-holiday Armed Forces Day on 1 Oct). The overall benefit to me was less than it might have been – Chuseok was a Sunday (but Mon and Tues were public holidays), National Foundation Day was a Saturday, and Hangeul Day was a Friday, when I don't have any classes anyway.

    (btw I prefer the spelling 'hangeul', but I am in the minority: 11 million Google results for 'hangul' v 500,000 for 'hangeul'.)

  6. David Morris said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 7:37 pm

    And I didn't see or otherwise know about any official activity on Hangeul Day, not even at one South Korean university. Our Korean teacher didn't mention it in class on Wednesday night, but I wore my hangeul motif tie in my class on Thursday, which highly impressed my students.

  7. Jeff W said,

    October 9, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

    Is it wrong to want to learn Korean because you think the alphabet is so incredibly cool?

    That video is pretty irresistible. (But if you haven’t had enough Hangul alphabet cuteness, here are the irrepressible members of B1A4 doing their bit, along with animated characters from the messaging app LINE, for a Japanese TV show LINE TOWN. I won’t say it’s better than Chan Hyuk and Soo Hyun’s video—and, really, there’s not much of the alphabet in it—but, hey, it’s B1A4 so we can’t complain too much.)

  8. Jongseong Park said,

    October 10, 2015 @ 2:51 am

    @David Morris, if you're interested, there are still some "Hangul Week" events going on at the National Hangeul Museum through to this Sunday.

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