Oldest Hangeul Type from 15th Century Discovered

The types were used in a press that was older than the Gutenberg press.

Oldest Hangeul Type from 15th Century Discovered

Image: The old hangeul type blocks discovered in Seoul.  Credit: Website of the Cultural Heritage Administration.

On June 29, the Cultural Heritage Administration 문화재청 announced that a Joseon Dynasty 조선왕조 era urn, discovered in an archeological site in downtown Seoul’s Insa-dong 인사동 district, contained 1.6k pieces of metal types for a printing press from the times of King Sejong the Great 세종대왕. The types included 1k pieces for Chinese characters and 600 pieces for hangeul 한글 or the Korean alphabet, making them the oldest Hangeul movable type blocks to be discovered.

The Chinese types are estimated to be part of the Gabinja 갑인자 press of 1434, two decades older the Gutenberg press. The urn also contained component pieces for a water clock, a constellation clock, and rifles.

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