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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 24

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Movable Type

[ The Valley of Utopia]

Koreans invented movable metal type and were using it by 1234. They published the first book in 1377—long before before Gutenberg produced Europe's first printed book, in 1450. The Chinese had employed movable clay type even earlier, but clay was breakable and this method quickly fell into disuse.

In the fifteenth century, after inventing han'gul, King Sejong ordered metal type to be cast and books to be printed using the new system. These initiatives gave Koreans a vernacular literature that could at last be preserved in books to be read by everyone for ages to come.




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