The first movable printing press in the world.

Posted on February 6, 2008. Filed under: Korean Entertainment Industry |

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Truth is not always truth. Sometimes people believe what they want to believe, sometimes people believe what they know or heard from school, media or others.

Here is one very long-term misunderstood fact through the history, especially western world.

Many people think that the first printing press invented in Germany by Gutenberg. But simply, it’s not.

I will show you two different articles from wikipedia.

[1] article 

A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a media (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring an image. The systems involved were first assembled in Germany by the goldsmith Johann Gutenberg in 1440.[1] Although both woodblock printing and movable type printing technologies were already developed in ancient China and later Korea in East Asia a few hundred years prior, printing methods based on Gutenberg’s printing press spread rapidly throughout first Europe and then the rest of the world. It eventually replaced most versions of block printing, making it the most used format of modern movable type printing. As a method of creating reproductions for mass consumption, the printing press has been superseded by the advent of offset printing.

 [2] article 

Transition from wood type to metal type occurred ca. 1230 AD during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea and is credited to Choe Yun-ui. A set of ritual books, Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun were printed with the movable metal type in 1234.[11][12] Examples of this metal type are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.[13] The oldest extant movable metal print book is the Jikji, printed in Korea in 1377.[14]

The techniques for bronze casting, used at the time for making coins (as well as bells and statues) were adapted to making metal type. The following description of the Korean font casting process was recorded by the Joseon dynasty scholar Song Hyon (15th c.):

At first, one cuts letters in beech wood. One fills a trough level with fine sandy [clay] of the reed-growing seashore. Wood-cut letters are pressed into the sand, then the impressions become negative and form letters [molds]. At this step, placing one trough together with another, one pours the molten bronze down into an opening. The fluid flows in, filling these negative molds, one by one becoming type. Lastly, one scrapes and files off the irregularities, and piles them up to be arranged.[11]

A potential solution to the linguistic and cultural bottleneck that held back movable type in Korea for two hundred years appeared in the early 15th century—a generation before Gutenberg would begin working on his own movable type invention in Europe—when King Sejong devised a simplified alphabet of 24 characters (Hangul) for use by the common people, which could have made the typecasting and compositing process more feasible. But Sejong’s brilliant creation did not receive the attention it deserved. Adoption of the new alphabet was stifled by the inertia of Korea’s cultural elite, who were “…appalled at the idea of losing Chinese, the badge of their elitism.”[4]

(Add) Early in January 2007 recently discovered oldest movable types in Korea were on display. They have been dated to the mid-15th century. Hangul, the script of Korea, was invented by King Sejong of the Joson Dynasty who reigned between 1418 and 1450.

Proliferation of movable type was also obstructed by a “Confucian prohibition on the commercialization of printing” restricted the distribution of books produced using the new method to the government.[15] The technique was restricted to use by the royal foundry for official state publications only, where the focus was on reprinting Chinese classics lost in 1126 when Korea’s libraries and palaces had perished in a conflict between dynasties.[15]

The first article already exist for a long time in wikipedia which is believed as true. The second article just added about few month ago after huge effort of Korean online community. In fact, Korean printing press invented 78years earlier than Gutenberg’s printing press. Also it effected to Japanese pringting press and to other Asian countries.  Unesco also confirmed that Korean printing press is the fisrt one in the world and recognize how valuable it is.


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