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Today, use of the word ‘Gugeo(국어)’ is natural and taken as a matter of course. However, ‘Gugeo’ has actually only been in general use for about 100 years. To clarify the meaning and circumstances in which ‘Gugeo’ was first used, we examine the writings of Ju Si-gyeong, who is credited with being first person to actively use it. Although Ju Si-gyeong published a number of works related to language and script beginning from 1897, he did not start to regularly use ‘Gugeo’ in his writing until after 1906. However, it was around this time when he began to emphasize the relationship between language and nation; specifically, he argued that a nation’s independence and autonomy was closely related to language. Moreover, Ju Si-gyeong also proposed his own unique notation system, strongly stressing the need to transcribe ‘Gugeo’ in its basic, ‘as is’ form. Specifically, in this case ‘Gugeo’ did not refer to the actual pronunciations of words, but rather the abstract basic principles that made each utterance possible. To him letters must reflect not their actual pronunciation, but rather something abstract that makes that pronunciation possible.