King Sejong the Great

The greatest person in Korean history Including the fields of Politics, Economy, Culture, Military, as a matter of course, Numerous achievements of King Sejong had developed Joseon into the most powerful and most scientifically advanced country in East Asia.

In 1441, He invented Cheugugi, an instrument to measure precipitation by collecting raindrops. In 1434, he invented Jagyeongnu, a time alarming machine with an automatic system of a bell, jing, and drum resounding at exact moment by water.

And 1443, King Sejong created Korean alphabet (Hangeul), which is recognized as the best letter system in the world. What was the motivation that made it possible to gain such successes in his era? Why were there so many brilliant people especially in his era? What was the power of King Sejong that made Joseon the most scientifically developed country of East Asia?

No.1 People’s happiness was the number one concern of his politics.
King Sejong was a great king who always considered people’s hardship and tried to do his best to make people’s life better.
“If I have to choose two among army, finance, and people’s mind, I will discard army. If I have to choose one between the rests, I will discard finance, The thing that should not be discarded till the last is people’s trust and their mind.”

In order to achieve agricultural enhancement, which was the fundamental resource of the nation, King Sejong researched many technologies needed in farming and published many books on them. The reason for developing the epoch breaking rice planting skills and the Korean udometer called ‘Cheugugi’, used in gauging rain fall, also was to enhance the agricultural abilities, and eventually, to improve the lives of the citizens.

The most apparent example of King Sejong’s affection towards the nation was the establishment of the Korean alphabet ‘Hangeul’. King Sejong established ‘Hangeul’ despite the strong objections from many government officials, who were maintaining their power by using Chinese that the common could not easily understand. On the other hand, anyone could easily learn and write this newly established language. The ultimate purpose of the establishment of ‘Hangeul’ was to eliminate the hardships of the illiterate and to enhance their lives.

No.2 Engaging government officials based on their abilities and personalities.
King Sejong was fair in engaging government officials. He never gave royals any benefits. In contrast, he searched for people with great talent even among the people in the lower social classes. Giving nationally significant tasks even to the officials from the lower classes, Sejong was never biased in excavating and educating the talented. He was also able to dispatch capable people in suitable positions for each of them and produced great achievements.

Regardless of the counterforce of many officials, King Sejong noticed the capability of a humble man named Jang Yeongsil and raised him as one of the most prominent scientists in the Korean history. Getting support from the King, Yeongsil produced many scientific devices such as, ‘Honcheonui’ an astronomical device used in viewing the stars, ‘Cheugugi’, used in gauging rainfalls, and ‘Jagyeongnu’, a clock run by the water inside, thus elevated the Joseon Dynasty as the strongest country in science. Scientists whom King Sejong had chosen as talented formed the basis of the enhancement of joseon Dynasty and are still honored as the virtuosos of history.

No.3 Passion in Studying 
King Sejong was especially fond of reading books and was a prominent scholar. He also had thorough understanding of studies that he had enough knowledge to compete with the best scholars. Also, he gained wisdom and power needed to be a good king by long periods of mental training. He was a king who reprimanded his followers who didn’t study and told them the importance of being awakened, as servants of the people.

Considering that the first sentence of the epitaph inscribed on his gravestone was that he was excellent with his studies, We can see how passionate he was about knowledge.

No.4 Running the country’s affairs through debate and conversation.
It is known that King Sejong enjoyed debating with his followers at dawn. Debate was one of King Sejong’s most important daily schedules that enabled him to think over his people’s sufferings and to be always awakened like a keeper of his country. In addition, in a society where kings had absolute powers, he was a king who valued and loved his intelligent followers even if they disagreed with him or criticized him.

Also, even though he was a king who had absolute power he didn’t run his country imperialistically but decided many issues through discussion. King Sejong held 1,800 academic lectures, more than any other kings held before. Even when he proclaimed Hangeul, he read every follower’s memorial to the throne and refuted it. From this, we can see that he even respected everything that contradicted his ideas. King Sejong was the greatest leader who led Koreans in the best way.

Today, if you ask any Korean to choose the best king ever, they will choose King Sejong without hesitation.

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