Gutenberg Bible VS Jikji

Major media like Time Magazine, BBC, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post reported that “movable metal type printing” is the greatest invention in the last 1,000 years. With movable metal type printing, the public became the main player in producing and expanding information rather than just being recipients of information unilaterally from people in power as they were in the past. As a result, landmark events like the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution and the Democratic Revolution took place in the history of the Western world. The revolutionary value of movable metal type printing as a means of information popularization is becoming all the more significant with today’s Internet.


However, do you know which country developed the great movable metal type printing first? Many will think of Germany because many people believe that Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible was the oldest metal type printed book, made in 1455 in Germany. However this is not true.

This is because ‘Jikji’ was already published using movable metal type in Korea in 1377, 78 years before the Gutenberg Bible. Even though the original was not preserved, according to some documents, another book titled “Sangjeong Yemun(Detailed and Authentic Codes of Ritual and Etiquette)” was made with metal type around 1230.

The movable metal type printing that was made in Korea had a great influence on Asian World including Japan. In the 16th century, two Japanese books entitled “Jikei Kyouki(時慶卿記)” and “Kangakumon(勸學文)” included the fact that the copper type and the wooden type printing of Korea were passed on to Japan. In 2001, UNESCO listed Korea’s Jikji on their Memory of the World Programme. Since then, Jikji has gradually become known to the people in the world.

Korea, in Asia of the 21st century, is now growing to be one of the top IT powerhouses in the world. This was only possible because of the great invention like “movable metal type printing”.

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