Hangul 101: A Super Easy Guide to the Korean Alphabet (2024)

Hangul 101: A Super Easy Guide to the Korean Alphabet (1)

Have you ever heard of Hangul? It’s the Korean writing system, also known as the Korean alphabet. If you’re interested in learning Korean, understanding Hangul is absolutely essential. Hangul was specifically designed to be easy to learn. So even if you’re a complete beginner, you can start learning Hangul right away.

In fact, learning Hangul is often the first step in learning Korean, and it can make a huge difference in your Korean learning journey. By the end of this article, you’ll understand what Hangul is, why it’s important for learning Korean, and how you can start mastering it today. So let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of Hangul together!

Table of Contents

History of Hangul

Hangul was created by King Sejong the Great of Joseon in 1443. It was designed to be simple and easy to learn so that anyone who knows Hangul could look at a Korean word and pronounce it correctly.

After years of studying Hanja, or Chinese characters, King Sejong believed that they were too difficult for ordinary people to learn. So he wanted to create an alphabet that would be easier and more useful.

Unlike the Japanese writing system, the Korean alphabet Hangul was also created with its own unique sounds, separate from Chinese characters. This made it possible for Koreans to write down their own language without having to borrow words from another culture or language.

Today, Hangulis used in all aspects of modern Korean culture, from literature, music, and art to daily communication. Many of Korea’s most celebrated works of literature and poetry are written in Hangul. Korean popular music, or K-pop, also uses Hangul in song titles, lyrics, and artist names. Hangul is also a key part of Korean cuisine, as menus and food packaging are labeled with Hangul.

Let’s continue exploring the world of Hangul. In the next part, we will introduce you to the basic concepts of Hangul, and you’ll be on your way to learning this beautiful writing system!

Basic Concepts of Hangul

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the Korean alphabet Hangul.

Hangul is made up of 14 basic consonants and 10 basic vowels. Each Korean character is made up of a consonant and a corresponding vowel. Sometimes, the vowels can also be written alone to form syllable blocks, the familiar cute square shapes.

  • 10 vowel letters (ㅏ ㅑ ㅓ ㅕ ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅠ ㅡ ㅣ)
  • 14 consonant letters (ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ)

In the following part, I’ll show you how to write and pronounce Hangul. It’s quite easy because Hangul is a phonetic writing system, which means the way a word is spelled reflects how it’s pronounced. If you know the Hangul alphabet, you can read any Korean word, even if you don’t know what it means!

Korean vowels

So first, let’s take a look at the Hangul vowels.

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How to pronounce 10 basic Korean vowels:

ㅏ (a) sounds like “ah”

(ya) sounds like “yah”

ㅓ (eo) sounds like “uh”

ㅕ (yeo) sounds like “yuh”

ㅗ (o) sounds like the “o” in “boat”

ㅛ (yo) sounds like “yo”

ㅜ (oo) sounds like the “u” in “sushi”

ㅠ (yoo) sounds like “you”

ㅡ (eu) sounds like the “oo” in “boot”

ㅣ (i) sounds like the “ee” in “cheese”

11 Complex Vowels (made up of two basic vowels)
ㅐ aeㅔ e
ㅒ yaeㅖ ye
ㅘ waㅚ oe
ㅙ waeㅝ wo
ㅟ wiㅞ we
ㅢ ui

Korean consonants

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How to pronounce Korean consonants:

ㄱ (g/k) sounds like the “g” in “go” or the “k” in “kite”

ㄴ (n) sounds like the “n” in “nice”

ㄷ (d/t) sounds like the “d” in “dad” or the “t” in “top”

ㄹ (l/r) sounds like a mix between the “l” and “r” sounds in English

ㅁ (m) sounds like the “m” in “mom”

ㅂ (b/p) sounds like the “b” in “baby” or the “p” in “pie”

ㅅ (s) sounds like the “s” in “sun”

ㅇ (ng) sounds like the “ng” in “song” or the “g” in “sing” (depending on where it’s used)

ㅈ (j/ch) sounds like the “j” in “jazz” or the “ch” in “cherry” ㅈ j/ch

ㅊ (ch) sounds like the “ch” in “cheese”

ㅋ (k) sounds like the “k” in “kangaroo”

ㅌ (t) sounds like the “t” in “time”

ㅍ (p) sounds like the “p” in “panda”

ㅎ (h) sounds like the “h” in “happy”

Please keep in mind that this pronunciation guide does not show exactly how Koreans speak their language. There could be some subtle variations that can only be discerned by listening to native speakers or using a language learning tool that includes audio recordings by native speakers, such as LingoDeer.

Hangul Stroke Order

It’s best to learn the right stroke order of Hangul from the beginning. So when learning how to write Hangul, stroke order is a very important part.

This chart shows the correct stroke order of Hangul. Just remember a simple rule, start from the top left corner.

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That’s it for the basics of Hangul! Trust me, with a little bit of practice, you’ll be reading and writing Korean in no time!

How to Read and Write Korean

Now you’ve known the basics of Korean alphabet Hangul, how to move forward to read and write in Korean? Don’t worry, here is a step-by-step guide you can follow to advance from

  1. Start by learning to read and write the basic consonants and vowels. Pay attention to the strokes. Learn how to pronounce each syllable and what their strokes are like. You can check out the 14 consonants and 10 vowels in the previous section.
  2. Combine consonants and vowels to form syllable blocks. NowEach syllable block consists of a consonant, followed by a vowel or a combination of a consonant and a vowel.

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  3. Practice writing these syllable blocks repeatedly until you have memorized the shapes and can write them with ease.
  4. Gradually move on to more complex combinations of syllables, and practice writing simple words and sentences.

Remember, to achieve fluency in Korean, you also need to practice besides learning. The more you practice your Korean skills, the easier it will be for you to speak with ease.

Let’s start your first Hangul practice with LingoDeer app, a well-rounded language learning program that teaches you how to speak, write, and read in Korean in no time. With short, bite-sized lessons, you can practice your Korean skills on the go. Start learning Korean the easier way today!

Common Uses of Hangul

If you are still curious about the common uses of Hangul in modern Korean, the answer should be straightforward by now: Hangul is used in pretty much the same way as the 26 English letters. As mentioned before, Hangul is the Korean alphabet and forms the fundamental building blocks of any Korean character.

In modern-day Korea, Hangul is used on a daily basis. From official documents to street signs, from advertising to pop culture, you can see Hangul everywhere. It is also used in media such as newspapers, magazines, and books. Sometimes Hangul is also used in artistic creation. Unlike the Japanese writing system, Hangul reduced the use of Hanja and thus played a significant role in promoting literacy in Korea.

Overall, Hangul is an essential part of the Korean language and culture, and its simplicity and accessibility have made it a crucial factor in promoting literacy and facilitating communication in Korea. Whether you are interested in Korean literature, media, or pop culture, learning Hangul is an excellent way to start your Korean learning journey or deepen your understanding and appreciation of Korean culture.

Tips for Learning Hangul

  • Start with the Basics

Before delving into the intricacies of Hangul, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the basic characters and their sounds. Begin by learning the vowels and consonants, and their corresponding sounds.

  • Practice Writing and Reading

Practice writing Hangul characters to familiarize yourself with the stroke order and structure. Start by writing simple words and phrases, then progress to more complex sentences. Reading Hangul text aloud can help you to master pronunciation and develop your listening skills.

  • Utilize Online Resources

There are many online resources available to help you learn Hangul. Websites such as Talk To Me In Korean and How to Study Korean offer comprehensive lessons on Hangul, along with grammar and vocabulary lessons. Apps like LingoDeer, Duolingo, and Memrise offer interactive Hangul lessons and exercises that can help you improve your proficiency.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to mastering Hangul is to practice consistently. Set aside a regular time each day to practice writing, reading, and speaking Hangul. Joining a language exchange program or finding a language partner can provide you with opportunities to practice speaking and listening skills with native speakers.

So, that’s it for our introduction to Hangul! Learning the Korean alphabet may seem daunting at first, but it’s a crucial step to mastering the Korean language. With some basic knowledge, practice, and the right resources, you’ll get there in no time!

If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to learn Hangul and Korean, download the LingoDeer app today and start your language learning journey! With structured lessons and game-like activities, you’ll be on your way to Korean fluency in no time. Happy learning!

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Hangul 101: A Super Easy Guide to the Korean Alphabet (2024)
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