By Kim Rahn
A “Hangeul Zone” will be set up in the heart of Seoul near Sejongno Street, as part of Seoul city’s effort to promote the Korean alphabet as a representative cultural item.
Commercial and administrative signboards of the area will be written only in Hangeul.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it will create a Hangeul neighborhood on 470,000 square meters of area, west of the street and Gyeongbok Palace, including Tongui-dong, Tongin-dong, Naesu-dong and Sejongno-dong.
The district already has Hangeul-related facilities and historical connections — Sejongno was named after King Sejong, the inventor of the alphabet, and there are related landmarks such as the house of King Sejong’s birth and the house of Korean language scholar Ju Si-gyeong during the late Joseon Kingdom, and the headquarters of the Hangeul Society.
“We’ll turn the center of Seoul’s politics, culture and history into the center of Hangeul culture and tourism, in an effort to promote Korea’s native alphabet, which is also a world-class cultural heritage,” a city official said.
To make the area completely Hangeul-oriented, Seoul will gradually have all the letters of the zone, such as shops’ signboards and road signs, written only in the Korean alphabet. “As cooperation from the private sector is essential, we’ll organize a council comprised of figures from both the city and private sector,” the official said.
In Sejongno Park located next to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, the city will set aside a section to commemorate Hangeul during the first half of the year. A total of 11,172 letters, which can be made by Hangeul’s 14 consonants and 10 vowels, will be written on the each of the 11,172 paved stones.
Besides the Hangeul stones, the city plans to ask foreign embassies here to write messages of peace in their own alphabets on separate stones.
Seoul city will also designate “Ju Si-gyeong road,” create a park commemorating the scholar near the site of his house, and restore the house of King Sejong’s birth.
A guesthouse will also be operating where foreign visitors can stay and learn Hangeul. The city will remodel a “hanok,” or traditional Korean house, near the Ju Si-gyeong road in 2012.
“Seoul is the first city in the world to designate a district with the native alphabet as its theme. We’ll develop Hangeul into one of Korea’s representative cultural items,” the official said.
서울시, 한글구역 조성 계획
서울의 한복판 세종로 근처에 한글구역이 조성된다. 이것은 한글을 대표적인 문화 상품화하기 위한 서울시 계획의 일환이다.
서울시는 세종로와 경복궁의 서쪽인 통의동, 통인동, 내수동, 세종로동의 470,000 m2 부지를 한글 중심지로 만들기로 했다고 밝혔다.
그 일대는 이미 한글 관련 기존 시설들이 풍부하다. 세종로는 한글 창제자인 세종대왕의 이름을 따서 만들어졌고, 세종대왕 생가, 주시경 선생 집터, 한글학회 등이 있다.
한글 중심지로 만들기 위해, 간판이나 표지판 등 그 지역의 모든 글자들을 한글로 바꾸는 작업이 점진적으로 이루어질 것이다.
세종로공원에는 한글 자모음 24자를 조합해 만들 수 있는 11,172개 글자를 돌 포장석에 새긴 공간을 마련할 것이다.
서울시는 또, 주시경길을 지정하고 그 집터 근체에 기념 공원을 마련하며, 세종대왕 생가를 복원할 계획이다.