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The King's Secret

The Legend of King Sejong

By Carol Farley

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Review by Allison Martin

The King's Secret by Carol Farley is the story of the creation of the Korean Hangul alphabet by King Sejong 600 years ago. Farley has embellished this classic tale of the beginnings of Hangul with folk tale additions appealing to preschool and elementary age children. Although not historically accurate, this lushly illustrated book evokes a feeling of pleasant camaraderie and the rich nature of Korea. Disguised as a simple scholar, King Sejong befriends a young boy working in the royal gardens. Yong Tu longs to be able to read and write, but he has no money for school or time to learn the complex Chinese characters used in Korea at that time. King Sejong is struck by his plight, and vows to create a simple alphabet that everyone in Korea can use. With his scholars, King Sejong devises a simple alphabet based on the unique sounds of Korea. Hangul is ultimately a great success, almost all South Koreans today can read and write. But first King Sejong needs to overcome the people's resistance to a new way of writing. At his command, Yong Tu puts his gardening skills to work, so the plants themselves bring this useful and elegant alphabet to the Korean people.

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