The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Feb 27, 2013
 

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.

Hangeul vastly increased literacy - previously restricted to the top scholarly class - and remains the official script of both South and North Korea.