‘King’s Letters’ gives cinematic treatment to Hangeul’s origin story
June 28, 2019
Global Korean Post
By Kim Eun-young and Lee Hana
The monarch whose face appears on Korea’s KRW 10,000 bill is none other than King Sejong the Great, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty whose legacy left a lasting imprint on Korean society.
Among his numerous achievements, he is most remembered for the invention of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, in 1443. Described through the document Hunminjeongeum (The Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People), Hangeul was a revolutionary writing system that allowed everyone to learn how to read and write in just a matter of days.
On June 25, a media briefing for “The King’s Letters,” a movie about Hangeul’s creation, was held at a theater in northern Seoul with director Jo Chul-hyun and cast members Song Kang-ho, Park Hae-il and Jun Mi-sun attending.
The film shows how King Sejong created the Korean alphabet with the help of a Buddhist monk despite the lowly status of monks at the time and conflict with his vassals. The producers sought to ensure the historical accuracy of Hangeul’s origin story by consulting linguists and religious scholars.
The director said he considered the Tripitaka Koreana, a Korean collection of Buddhist scriptures carved on 81,258 wooden printing blocks, and Hunminjeongeum as the most impressive achievements in Korea’s 5,000 years of history.
“I tried to show King Sejong the man and the torment hidden in the shadows of his greatness,” he said.
Song, who played King Sejong in the film, said he sought to portray the monarch’s suffering, loneliness and conviction in creating the Korean alphabet.
Park, whose role was the Buddhist monk Sinmi, said the beautiful shooting locations such as Haeinsa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses the Tripitaka Koreana, added visual splendor to the film.
Set for release on July 24, “The King’s Letters” could prove especially popular among learners of the Korean language or those curious about the history of Korea’s unique writing system.