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List of Korean inventions and innovations


Writing system

  • Hangul is a unique type of alphabet that can be grouped into syllabic blocks.

Heating system

  • Ondol is a Korean unique underground heating system.

Metal movable type printing

  • movable type printing, transitioned from wood type to metal cast type[1], occurred in 1234 during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea and is credited to Choe Yun-ui. A set of ritual books, Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun were printed with the movable metal type in 1234.[2][3]

Examples of this metal type are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.[4] The oldest extant movable metal print book is the Jikji, printed in Korea in 1377.[5]


  • Hwacha was a platform device on wheels that used gunpowder to fire fire arrows, a predecessor of the modern MLRS.
  • War wagon The war wagon was a medieval weapon inspired by the Korean Hwacha, which was first produced in 1407 by the order of King Sejong the Great during the early Joseon Dynasty.[6]

Rain gauge

Some sources state that the Cheugugi of Korea was the world's udometer, while other sources say that Jang Yeong Sil developed or refined an existing gauge.[7][8][9][10][11][12]


  • Vinalon is a synthetic fibre, produced from polyvinyl alcohol using anthracite and limestone as raw materials. Vinalon was first developed by the Korean scientist Ri Sung Gi at the Takatsuki chemical research institute in 1939. The fibre was largely ignored until Ri defected to North Korea in 1950. Trial production began in 1954 and in 1961 the massive February 8 Vinalon Complex was built in Hamhung. Its success and widespread usage in North Korea is often pointed to in propaganda as an example of the success of the juche philosophy. Hamhung remains a major production centre for vinalon; in 1998, a vinalon factory opened up in South Pyongan.


  • Thundersticks are inflated plastic tubes that make a loud clapping noises when struck together. They are usually used at sportings events but have also been used at political rallies in Korea.[13]


  • Yut is a traditional board game played in Korea, especially during Korean New Year. The game is also called cheok-sa or sa-hee. The suffix nori means "game".
  • Chajeon Nori occasionally translated as Juggernaut Battle, is a traditional Korean game usually played by men, originating in the Andong region. It may have originated as a commemoration of Wang Geon's victory over Gyeon Hwon at the Battle of Gochang in 935, near the end of the Later Three Kingdoms period. It resembles a jousting match, with the two commanders are atop large log frames maneuvered by their teams.

Korean musical instruments

  • Yanggeum a hammered dulcimer with metal strings, struck with a bamboo stick.
  • Nagak is a large seashell played as a horn in Korean traditional music. It produces only a single tone and is used primarily in the military procession music called daechwita.
  • Janggu is the most widely used drum used in the traditional music of Korea. It is available in most kinds, and consists of an hourglass-shaped body with two heads made from animal skin. The two heads produce sounds of different pitch and timbre, which when played together are believed to represent the harmony of man and woman.

Martial arts

  • Joseon Sebeop (조선세법) This is a sword style originating in Chosun. It has many hand and a half techniques along with slicing with little movement.
  • Subak(수박) (empty-handed fighting), references to Subak can be found in government records from the Goguryeo dynasty through the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).
  • Taekgyeon(택견) is believed that it originated with warriors from the Silla Dynasty (57 BCE–668 CE) who learned subak from the neighboring Goguryeo armies when they appealed for their help against invading Japanese pirates. Practicing subak became part of the training for Silla's hwarang, and this contributed to the spread of subak on the Korean peninsula. But again, it is not known exactly which techniques the hwarang practiced. Buddhist monks, who added more spiritual aspects to the art, often instructed the hwarang. Their greatest contribution to the development of Korean martial arts is probably adding a spiritual dimension to the training practices, something that Korean martial arts lacked before. Empty-handed combat appears to have played a small role; most of the emphasis was on armed combat. It has only been recently that empty-handed combat has gained more popularity than armed combat.
  • Seonmudo(선무도) Bulmudo(불무도) Seon-Kwan-Moo These are Korean martial arts passed down by the Buddhist monks and mostly preserved until today.
  • Shippalgi(십팔기) This is the style described in the Muyesinbo and Muyedobotongji. The crown prince Sado named the 18 martial arts of Korea 'Muye Sippalki' when compiling the Muyeshinbo in 1759.
  • Subyeokchigi (수벽치기) (literally translated, it means 'bare block striking') It is a breaking art in Korea that trains the martial artists to break stone, metal and wood with their bare hands. Many martial artists from different backgrounds take this technique to further discipline themselves.
  • Ssireum(씨름) is a Korean wrestling style and is the traditional national sport of Korea.[citation needed] In the modern form each contestant wears a belt that wraps around the waist and the thigh. The competition employs a series of techniques, which inflict little harm or injury to the opponent: opponents lock on to each other's belt, and one achieves victory by bringing any part of the opponent's body above the knee to the ground.[14]
  • Gukgung(국궁) Korean archery, making use of a traditional composite horn bow.

MP3 Player

The First Digital Audio Player and flash memory MP3 player were built by Saehan Information Systems in 1998. [15][16]

The first mobiles phones with built-in MP3 players were produced in South Korea in 2003. The innovation spread rapidly and by 2005, more than half of all music sold in South Korea was sold directly to mobile phones.

See also