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Hanguel Metal Typefaces Are the Sailing Boat That Carries Our Spirit, Culture, and Technology

Professor Ryu Hyunguk: The modern metal type produced in and outside of Korea recorded the history of Hangeul typography, including the ideas, ideals, influences, and relationships that existed during the era. Hangeul fonts pursued gradual reform and changes rather than rapid revolution throughout the ages.

How did Hangeul font designs develop during each era that has sustained the modern metal type? It was the unwavering effort and hard work of the font designers that developed the fonts regardless of the times and places.

Type is a sailing boat that carries our spirit, culture, and technology of the country. Each one of the types is only a small square-shaped frame made of alloys. However, together they make a sentence, and once it is printed into a book to face people’s eyes, it shines their spirit and supports their will and statement to influence the society, let alone move the country. It would be fair to say that the development and dissemination of Hangeul type from the nineteenth century to the modern time are what led to the modernization of Korea.

However, there are not many people who are aware of the significant role and value of the type. Maybe because it always closely stays with us like water or air and naturally exists without the need for any questions. There were many Christian missionaries who risked their lives, Korean and Japanese intellectuals, and the nameless craftsmen who put in a great deal of effort and realized the development and dissemination of Hangeul type that began from the orientalism in Europe during the nineteenth century. I believe I have fulfilled my role if this research finds the mainstream of the history of Hangeul metal type and delivers the truth to attract the attention of the public to Hangeul type.


Ryu Hyunguk

"Ryu Hyunguk is a professor at the National Tsukuba University of Technology in Japan. Over the past thirty years, he has been studying “Korean modern type printing history” and “Modern Korean typeface design history,” “Change of typeface in the era of Korean mechanization,” “Change in the direction of Hangeul notation,” and “North Korean type printing history of design history” in Japan. With the “Change in character design brought about by the development of Korean typewriters,” which has been neglected by modern type printing companies, Hyunguk started full-fledged research on Korean typography, starting with Dr.Design research.

For the first time in Korea, Korean typewriters, Intertype, Linotype, Monotype, Benton matrix engraving machines, and phototypesetting machines, which appeared in the era of Korean mechanization, have been investigated and analyzed for more than twenty years.

Major books: “The Practice of East Asian Typographer,” Korea Publishing Research Institute for the 26th Korean Publishing Criticism Award, The Grand Prize (2019); “Galaxy of Hangeul Type (1945-2010)”, Sejong Excellent Academic Books (Culture Division), and Korea Publishing Agency (2017); “Ryu Hyun-guk’s GungsuhChe Design,” Typeface Division (nominate), Tokyo TDC (2016); “Birth of Hangeul Type (1820-1945) typeface, Sejong Excellent Academic Books (History Division), the Korea Publishing Agency (2015); the 22nd Korean Publishing Criticism Award, “Birth of Hangeul Type (1820-1945), Korea Publishing Research Institute (2015), and many others."