Korea Printing History

Korea has the longest history of printing in known history. Arguably, the Chinese claim it as their own history since the founders of printing in Korea were also the ancestors of modern China. This is what modern Printing in Korea looks like today.

So who really invented printing?

So far, the oldest piece of literature or writing is still the Code of Hammurabi dating back to about 1754 BCE. But that is etching and carving based. It is not printing based. So when was reproduction graphics or reprographics created?

Well, aside from time or place or nationality, what we can be certain of was process. Wood block printing was used.

As early as the 8th century in Korea, wood block printing of sutras were found. This is called xylography.This was the Buddhist Dharani Sutra known as the Pure Light Dharani Sutra 무구정광대다라니경. Waxed paper, cloth and engraving knives were used.

In the 1400’s metal movable type was first used in Printing in Korea. Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun was printed with metal typeset in 1234 AD. And it was King Sejong who made the modern Korean type set that is compatible with modern printing. You have to remember that with Chinese or Japanese characters, there are thousands of characters so making a printable negative is unreasonable and counter productive compared to the simpler European Alphabet of only 26 repeating characters.

Korean has less. Korean has only 24 letters.