Ancient king’s hat holds clues to Korean alphabet
SEOUL (AFP) – A hat which belonged to South Korea’s most revered monarch King Sejong has been recovered more than 500 years after it was looted by Japanese invaders, a senior scholar said Wednesday.
Apart from its intrinsic value as an historical relic, the discovery has thrilled scholars after documents were found stitched inside the hat carrying explanations of King Sejong’s greatest legacy – the Hangeul alphabet.
The monarch known as Sejong the Great ruled from 1418-1450.
His reign had a profound impact on Korean history with the introduction of the Hangeul phonetic alphabet that replaced classical Chinese characters used before.
Hangeul vastly increased literacy – previously restricted to the top scholarly class – and remains the official script of both South and North Korea.
The king’s statue occupies an honoured place in the centre of Seoul and numerous buildings and institutions are named after him.
Hangeul Day commemorating the alphabet’s creation is a public holiday.