Education About Asia

Values Lesson Plan: How Currency Reveals Cultural Values

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King Sejong is the most well-known and celebrated ruler in Korean history. Even though he lived more than 500 years ago, the Korean people continue to honor him for his relentless efforts to improve the lives of the common people. He governed with compassion and wisdom and led Korea into a golden age of cultural and scientific progress.

In his youth, Sejong became known as “the reading prince” and began his lifelong quest to learn everything he could about the world around him. At the age of twenty-two, he became king and established the foundation of a royal household that would last into the early twentieth century. He believed that good government was based on selecting and training intelligent men to administer the various branches of government. He selected twenty of his most able scholars and allowed them to essentially devote all of their time to advanced learning. He also sought out talent in the countryside by establishing a system to select the most qualified people to serve in government positions, according to their abilities. To protect his homeland from invaders, he selected technicians to develop improved forms of cannon and artillery.


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——.The Practice of Hongik Ingan: Lives of Queen Seondeok, Shin Saimdang and Yi Yulgok. Seoul, Korea: Jae-woong Kim Publisher, 2011.