The Wikipedia article on Hangul states that

Beginning in the 1970s, hanja began to experience a gradual decline in commercial or unofficial writing in the South due to government intervention...

If true, what form did this intervention take?

2 Answers 2


Just as I guessed, a big factor was (not teaching Hanja in) the schools...



South Korean primary schools abandoned the teaching of hanja in 1971. It is taught in separate courses in South Korean high schools, separately from the normal Korean-language curriculum. Formal hanja education begins in grade 7 (junior high school) and continues until graduation from senior high school in grade 12. A total of 1,800 hanja are taught: 900 for junior high, and 900 for senior high (starting in grade 10).[4] Post-secondary hanja education continues in some liberal-arts universities.[5] [ . . . ] .......

Debate flared again in 2013 after a move by South Korean authorities to encourage primary and secondary schools to offer hanja classes. Officials said that learning Chinese characters could enhance students' Korean-language proficiency; protesters called the program "old-fashioned and unnecessary".[6]

Two other forms of "government intervention" I can imagine are:

  • Revising guidelines so that fewer Chinese characters are used in govt documents

  • Less and less emphasis on Hanja in examinations related to govt jobs, and public certifications (lawyers, doctors, diplomats, teachers, police, civil service, public servants, ...).


Yes. In order to boost nationalism Park Chung Hee literally banned hanja from school and publications in the 70s, hence from that generation until now nobody knows hanja and do not want to learn it. Koreans like to say that they stopped using hanja naturally, but they are ignorant of their own recent history or do not want to acknowledge it. They were just forced to forget hanja. It's an example of how a government can make its people more stupid and ignorant. Not knowing hanja means that all the documments and books written before the 60s cannot be read at ease anymore, making the people even more ignorant about their history.

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    Welcome to the site. Any links / references about the banning? Oct 27, 2016 at 10:06
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    Here is one very good article of his explaining the matter: kuiwon.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/…
    – Alex Alder
    Oct 27, 2016 at 18:15
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    That's rather funny, because I went to the middle school in the 80s (after Park was dead) and I clearly remember being taught Hanja at school, not to mention newspapers were practically filled with Hanja: e.g., ojsfile.ohmynews.com/STD_IMG_FILE/2016/0509/IE001959767_STD.jpg (first example I found by googling "1980 조선일보"). IIRC, when the newspaper Hankyoreh (한겨레신문) was founded in 1988, it made a splash by adopting all-Korean policy. Gradually during the 90s other newspapers realized that there was no practical reason to pepper Hanja everywhere, and the use of Hanja greatly decreased.
    – jick
    Oct 27, 2016 at 18:28
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    The blog post you quote may have factual information but is very biased in assessment. As a native speaker, I can confidently say that we simply stopped using Chinese characters because they were more cumbersome with marginal benefit. About the only legitimate reason (disambiguation of homonyms) is easily solved once most Koreans use Hangul exclusively, because then ambiguous words are naturally avoided in search of clear meaning. Once the ball started rolling, any actions by national leaders (dictator or not) could at best postpone the inevitable by a few years.
    – jick
    Oct 27, 2016 at 18:36
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    Yes. After Park Chung Hee died there were timid attempts to teach hanja again, but it became just optional, so many kids do not learn the characters. Korean ultranationalists like to think about hanja and hangul mixed script as something introduced by Japan and thetefore disregard it, but that is utterly lying.
    – Alex Alder
    Oct 28, 2016 at 11:01

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