SEOUL, May 29 (Korea Bizwire) – Five elderly women who didn’t even have a vague idea of what “police” means have become unlikely stars in South Korea’s typography world.
Earlier this month, Hancom, the country’s leading office suite software developer, said it rolled out new fonts developed by grandmothers in the 1970s and 1980s in small Chilgok County, North Gyeongsang Province, for its HWP word processor, the Korean equivalent of Microsoft Word.
To express her gratitude, Choo Yoo-eul, one of the women, sent gifts to the company – a variety of fresh produce that she raised and harvested on her own, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers – the company said on its Facebook page.
In the photo the company received from the county, Choo smiled broadly at the camera, holding a board saying, “My handwriting is on the computer. Thank you very much ”, written in dialect and filled with spelling mistakes.
“Even after I die, I hope I can remember my writing forever,” said the 86-year-old.
She is one of more than 400 grandmothers who belatedly learned to read and write the Korean Hangeul alphabet at the county community center.
The county chose the five grandmothers with the most elegant handwriting that also features strong personality to develop them into fonts.
The five elderly women, who studied in the Hangeul class for over 10 years, practiced day and night for several months and “invested their souls” in the project, according to the county.
In a video uploaded to the county’s website, Choo said she was now confident when asked to write her name on a piece of paper at a local bank.
“I used to feel too nervous to write my name, but now I don’t feel that way,” she says.
Kim Young-bun, another grandmother, said she was not allowed to go to school. Instead, she had to work from a young age to help her four siblings.
Other women’s stories were similar. Born in the 1930s and 1940s, when the country was poor and steeped in the teachings of Confucius, they lived in a time when girls were mostly unwanted and forced to sacrifice themselves to educate other male siblings.
“Mom, your handwriting is so beautiful and so pretty. How do you do that? ”Lee Won-Soon remembered her son responding with surprise when he watched her write. Her son cried and she cried too, she said.
The fonts, which can be downloaded for free from the county’s website, are widely used by ordinary people.
Shin Hae-kyeong, who runs a fried chicken restaurant in the county, attaches a thank you note written in one of the grandmothers typefaces to each box of fried chicken before delivering them to his customers.
“Fonts make your expression of gratitude more sincere,” she said. “Since I started doing this, sales have increased.”
The National Hangeul Museum recently designated the framed handwritten writings of grandmothers and the USB stick on which the fonts are recorded as national heritage.
“The Chilgok grandmothers’ fonts are a cultural heritage left by the last generation who could not receive regular schooling,” said Shim Dong-sung, the museum’s president. “They left a big mark and wrote a new chapter in the history of Hangeul.