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Korean script garners 30% votes as best invention in Korea

Korean script garners 30% votes as best invention in Korea

Posted May. 19, 2017 07:19,   

Updated May. 19, 2017 07:38

Patents drive invention, and invention lays the foundation of industrial advancement. The economic renaissance in Venice in the 15th century gained fast momentum by the implementation of patent system. Britain’s invention of steam engine in the 18th century, which triggered the first industrial revolution, was also an outgrowth of patent law. The economic dominance of the U.S. in the 20th century was mainly attributable to a strong patent system. Some of the major beneficiaries include Google, Pfizer, and Apple, who established a solid footing on the back of innovative products.

In Korea, the first item registered at the Patent Bureau under Japan’s Residency-General was the "horsehair hat" by Jeong In-ho, an independence activist. Then, what are some of the main inventions that made Korea the country that is today? Marking the 40th anniversary of opening and the 52nd celebration of Day of Invention in Korea (May 19), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) on Thursday selected 10 major inventions that are the pride of Korea, and the best invention of all was Hunminjeongeum, the Korean script. Expert group selected 25 inventions, and from May 2 to 17, people participated in an online vote on the Facebook page of KIPO to choose the best Korean invention. The Korean script garnered more than 30 percent of votes among the 25 candidates.

Of the top 10 inventions, premodern works included the Turtle Ship (2nd), metal type (3rd), Korean floor heating system Ondol (4th), Cheomseongdae observatory (9th), and Korean lift called Geojunggi (10th). Post-modern inventions included Korean instant coffee (5th), Korean Italy Towel (6th), kimchi refrigerator (7th), and a cell-phone input method called Cheonjiin (8th).

The Korean script Hunminjeongeum used to be considered as impractical knowledge, but it earned the status of a national script with the awakening of national awareness. The name Hangeul was endowed by Ju Si-gyeong, one of the first Korean linguistic scholars. Korea’s metal type was invented even earlier than Gutenberg’s metal type.

The Jikji, the first metal type publication in the world, printed in Heungdeok Temple in 1377 stands as evidence. Korea’s traditional floor heating system called Ondol boasts great thermal efficiency and economy, and it is fairly immune to malfunction.

Myung-Hun Jee mhjee@donga.com