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List of Korean inventions and discoveries


List of Korean inventions and discoveries

This is a list of Korean inventions and discoveries.

A page from the Hunmin Jeong-eum Eonhae. The Hangul-only column, fourth from left, (나랏말ᄊᆞ미), has pitch-accent diacritics to the left of the syllable blocks.
Encyclopedia in Korean


  • Premodern inventions 1
  • Modern science and technology 2
    • Electronics 2.1
    • IT 2.2
    • Natural Science 2.3
    • Social sciences 2.4
  • Culture 3
    • Internet 3.1
  • Games 4
  • Korean musical instruments 5
  • Martial arts 6
    • Others 6.1
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9

Premodern inventions

  • Underfloor heating: Ondol is a Korean underfloor heating system[1] its early forms were found in Korean peninsula and Manchuria. as early as 5000 BCE.[2]
  • Movable type printing, transitioned from ceramic type to metal cast type,[3] 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.[4][5] Examples of this metal type are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.[6] The oldest extant movable metal print book is the Jikji, printed in Korea in 1377.[7]
  • Kiln sauna: Hanjeungmak (한증막; 汗蒸幕) is Korean traditional sauna using burning wood of pine to heat a domelike kiln made of stones. The first mention of hanjeungmak is found in the "Sejong Sillok," in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century.[8][9]
  • Active Greenhouse: this type of greenhouses, in which it is possible for the temperature to be increased or decreased manually, appeared in the 15th century Korea. Sanga yorok written in the year 1450 AD in Korea, contained descriptions of a greenhouse, which was designed to regulate the temperature and humidity requirements of plants and crops. One of the earliest records of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty in 1438 confirms growing mandarin trees in a Korean traditional greenhouse during the winter and installing a heating system of Ondol.[10]
  • Multiple rocket launcher: Hwacha is a Multiple rocket launcher which was a platform device on wheels that used gunpowder to fire fire arrows, a predecessor of the modern MLRS.[11][12]
  • Pluviometer: Cheugugi was first standardized pluviometer, invented during the reign of King Sejong the Great in Joseon Dynasty of Korea.[13][14][15] It was used throughout the country for official purposes.
  • Featural alphabet: Hangul is a featural alphabet, wherein the shapes of the letters are not arbitrary, but encode phonological features of the phonemes they represent.[16]
  • Soft bullet-proof vest: Myeonje Baegab is a soft bullet-proof vest invented by Kim Gi-du and Gang Yun in the late 1860s in the Joseon Dynasty.[17]

Modern science and technology


  • MP3 Portable Player: The first portable MP3 player was launched in 1997 by Saehan Information Systems,[18] which sold its "MPMan" player in Asia in spring 1998.[19]
  • MP3 Phone: Samsung SPH-M2100, the first mobile phone with built-in MP3 players were produced in South Korea in August, 1999.[20][21] Samsung SPH-M100 launched in 2000 was the first cell phone to have MP3 music capabilities[22] in the US market.
  • Capacitive touchscreen mobile phone: LG KE850 is the first mobile phone with a capacitive touchscreen. It was announced in January 2007 and brought to market in May.[23]
  • LTE Mobile phone: Samsung SCH-r900 is the world’s first LTE Mobile phone starting on 21 September 2010[24][25] and Samsung Galaxy Indulge being the world’s first LTE smartphone starting on 10 February 2011[26][27] both offered by MetroPCS.


  • Contactless smart transport card: Seoul has the world's longest experience of using contactless transport cards.[28] The Korean system integrator Intec and Seoul Bus Union first launched a test of their system in a trial from October to December 1995.[29] The first contactless e-Ticketing systems went live in 1996 in Seoul and 1997 in Hongkong.[30]
  • Coloring Ring back tone: A South Korean wireless services provider, invented this type of ringback tones for cellphone networks.[31] CRBT (Coloring Ring back tones) are pieces of music and audio clips that callers hear instead of normal ringing tone when they dial a specific number. The original service first premiered by South Korean operator SK Telecom in April 2002.[31][32][33]
  • WiBro: An abbreviation of wireless broadband, refers to the Mobile WiMAX system developed and deployed in Korea.[34]
  • Digital Multimedia Broadcasting: The technology was developed in South Korea.[35]
  • Digital Mobile TV: By developing Digital Multimedia Broadcasting, Korea became the first nation in the world to introduce moble television.[36]
  • Virtual Store: A Korean supermarket chain, Home Plus has developed a "virtual" store by Homeplus CEO Lee Seung-han, who originally had the idea in 2008. It allows consumers to do their shopping with smartphones from the subway station with the Homeplus App and get the items delivered to their doorsteps. It opened at Seolleung subway station in Seoul, Korea.[37]
  • LTE service: The world's first commercial LTE device, developed by Samsung, was provided for the world's first LTE service in Stockholm.[38] The South Korean company is providing the LTE infrastructure on the MetroPCS, North America’s first operator offering 4G LTE services.[25]

Natural Science

Social sciences

  • Blue Ocean Strategy denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. The term was coined by W. Chan Kim.



  • Electronic café: An archaic form of cybercafé called Electronic Café opened in front of Hongik University in March 1988 by Ahn Sang-Su and Keum Nuri in Seoul, South Korea. It had two 16bit computers connected to Online service networks through telephone lines. Online service users’ offline meetings were held in the Electronic Café, which served as a place that connected online and offline activities.[48]
  • LAN gaming center: PC Bang, otherwise called local area network-based gaming center, is a place where people can get access to high-speed Internet.[49] PC bangs rose to popularity following the release of the PC game StarCraft in 1998.[50] In 1997, there were only around 100 PC bangs in South Korea but by 2002 this number has increased rapidly to around 25,000.[51]
  • Question-and-answer site: Naver the number-one search portal in South Korea, pioneered a community-driven question-and-answer site called Knowledge Search in 2002.[52] The program allows users to ask about any questions, such as requests for recipes for kimchi or how to subscribe to international magazines through the internet.[53] Later in 2005, Yahoo! Answers launched a question-and-answer service, which was modeled from the Korean Naver's Knowledge Search.[54]


  • 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".

Korean musical instruments

  • 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.
  • Gayageum is a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument, with 12 strings, although more recently variants have been constructed with 21 or other numbers of strings. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument.

Martial arts

  • Taekgyeon 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.
  • Ssireum is a form of folk wrestling native to Korea. 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.[55]
  • Gukgung Korean archery, making use of a traditional composite horn bow.


  • Chisanbop: An abacus-like finger counting method used to perform basic mathematical operations. It was brought to the West in the 1970s.[56]
  • Coffee Mix: A stick-shaped packet filled with coffee powder, powdered cream and sugar. It was developed by Dongsuh Food Corp in the 1970s.[57]
  • Thundersticks are inflated plastic tubes that make a loud clapping noise when struck together. They are usually used at sporting events but have also been used at political rallies in Korea.

See also


  1. ^ Kim, Namung(2004) "The History of Korean Floor Heating System, Goodl(Ondol) through Literature and Relics" Seoul: Dankook University Press.
  2. ^ Guo, Q., (2005), Chinese Architecture and Planning: Ideas, Methods, Techniques. Sttutgart: Edition Axel Menges, Part 1, Chpt 2, pg 20-27
  3. ^
  4. ^ Thomas Christensen (2007). "Did East Asian Printing Traditions Influence the European Renaissance?". Arts of Asia Magazine (to appear). Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  5. ^ Sohn, Pow-Key (Summer 1993). "Printing Since the 8th Century in Korea". Koreana 7 (2): 4–9. 
  6. ^ World Treasures of the Library of Congress. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
  7. ^ Michael Twyman, The British Library Guide to Printing: History and Techniques, London: The British Library, 1998 online
  8. ^ "Seoul In A Sweat". The  
  9. ^ "Jjimjilbang: a microcosm of Korean leisure culture". 2010. 
  10. ^ The Garden History Society, Garden History Advanced Horticultural Techniques in Korea: The Earliest Documented Greenhouses. pp. 68-84. W. S. MANEY AND SON LIMITED, 2007
  11. ^ "History of Rocket exhibition will be open". The Science Times. June 2010. 
  12. ^ Lee, Bum-gu (November 2011). "A far-sighted policy of Defence Acquisition Program Administration". The Korean Defence Daily. 
  13. ^ Weathershack history on rain gauge
  14. ^ Inventors
  15. ^ 측우기 測雨器, Naver encyclopedia
  16. ^ Sampson, Geoffrey (1990). Writing Systems. Stanford University Press.
  17. ^ The Hankyoreh, 21. Feb. 2007
  18. ^ Roberto Verganti, Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Thing Mean. Harvard Business Press, 2009
  19. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot. "Introducing the world's first MP3 player".  
  20. ^ "SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS UNVEILS SPH-M2100 PHONE". Telecompaper BV. August 1999.  ( archived version)
  21. ^ Luigi Lugmayr (December 2004). "First MP3 Mobile Phone already in 1999 on the market". I4U NEWS.  (archived version)
  22. ^ "Samsung launched the World's first MP3 mobile phone - iMobile".  ( archived version)
  23. ^ Temple, Stephen. "Vintage Mobiles: LG Prada – First mobile with a capacitive touchscreen (May 2007)". History of GMS: Birth of the mobile revolution. 
  24. ^ Temple, Stephen. "Vintage Mobiles: Samsung SCH-r900 – The world’s first LTE Mobile (2010)". History of GMS: Birth of the mobile revolution. 
  25. ^ a b "Samsung Craft, the world’s first 4G LTE phone, now available at MetroPCS". Unwired View. 21 September 2010. 
  26. ^ "MetroPCS debuts first 4G LTE Android phone, Samsung Galaxy Indulge". Android and Me. 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  27. ^ "MetroPCS snags first LTE Android phone". Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  28. ^ Overview – The 4th Asian Transport Revenue Collection Forum. Asia pacific Smart Card Association (APSCA), 2009 [1]
  29. ^ Showcases – Seoul: World's largest contactless Smart Card installation in full operation in Korea [2]
  30. ^ Dominique Brule, Mattias Eld, Jerome Juvin, Christian Lackner. MIFARE4Mobile™ enabling electronic ticketing and access management applications on mobile devices. MIFARE4 Mobile Industry Group, 2012
  31. ^ a b Real Whitepaper - Ringback Tones - Virtual Press Office Ringback Tone Solution & Service. 3. RealNetworks, 2007
  32. ^ David Wisely, IP for 4G. John Wiley & Sons, 2009
  33. ^ Emanuel Hanser-Strecker, Modern Mobile Technologies and their Impact on Content Providers. GRIN Verlag, 2006
  34. ^ Byeong Gi Lee, Sunghyun Choi. Broadband Wireless Access and Local Networks: Mobile WiMax and WiFi. Artech House, 2008
  35. ^ Grzegorz Iwacz, Andrzej Jajszczyk, Michal Zajaczkowski. Multimedia Broadcasting and Multicasting in Mobile Networks. John Wiley & Sons, 2008
  36. ^ Myung Oh, James Larson. Digital Development in Korea: Building an Information Society. Taylor & Francis, 2011
  37. ^ Shopping Will Never Be The Same – World’s First Virtual Store Opens in South Korea. AX3 Battery, 2012 [3]
  38. ^ "Light Reading Mobile - 4G/LTE — Ericsson, Samsung Make LTE Connection — Telecom News Analysis". 23 October 2009. 
  39. ^  
  40. ^ James E. Hoare. Historical Dictionary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Scarecrow Press, 2012
  41. ^ "1960 – Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated: John Atalla and Dawon Kahng fabricate working transistors and demonstrate the first successful MOS field-effect amplifier (U.S. Patent 3,102,230 filed in 1960, issued in 1963)". 
  42. ^ Kunz, Kevin; Kunz, Barbara (2001-11-01). Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Safety, Efficacy, Mechanism of Action. Reflexology Research Project. pp. 29–.  
  43. ^ Lee, HW; Lee, PW; Johnson, KM (1978). "Isolation of the etiologic agent of Korean Hemorrhagic fever". The Journal of infectious diseases 137 (3): 298–308.  
  44. ^ Jihn E. Kim (1979). "Weak Interaction Singlet and Strong CP Invariance". Phys.Rev.Lett. 4 (2): 103.  
  45. ^ Graphene Commercialisation & Applications 2013: Global Industry & Academia Collaboration Summit
  46. ^ Patel, Prachi, "Bigger, Stretchier Graphene", Technology Review, MIT, 2009-01-15
  47. ^ KANG, NAM-YOUNG; Hyung-Ho Ha, Seong-Wook Yun, Young Hyun Yu, Young-Tae Chang (2011). "Diversity-driven chemical probe development for biomolecules: beyond hypothesis-driven approach". Chem. Soc. Rev 40: 3613–3626.  
  48. ^ The First PC Bang, "Electronic Café" (2009-09-24) [4] Cyber Internet History Museum, September, 2009
  49. ^ Kim, Tae-gyu (2007-07-23). "`PC Bang’ Emerges as New Way of Promotion".  
  50. ^ "The Emergence of PC Bangs in a Dedicated Gaming Place". Internationalexperts. 
  51. ^ Larissa Hjorth. Games and Gaming: An Introduction to New Media. Bloomsbury, 2011
  52. ^ Beth Simone Noveck. Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. Brookings Institution Press, 2009
  53. ^ Bruce Clay,Susan Esparza. Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, 2012
  54. ^ Randy Farmer, Bryce Glass. Building Web Reputation Systems. Yahoo Press, 2010
  55. ^
  56. ^ Jonathan Hancock, Jon Chapman. Number Training Your Brain: Teach Yourself. Hachette UK, 2011
  57. ^ Yonhap News Agency. Instant coffee-sales increase. GlobalPost, 2013


  • Fischer, Stephen Roger (2004). A History of Writing. Globalities. London: Reaktion Books. pp. 187–194.  
  • Sampson, Geoffrey (1990). Writing Systems. Stanford University Press.  
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