Hangul 한글: The Korean Alphabet

ㅎ ㅏ ㄴ ㄱ ㅡ ㄹ

Hangul 한글=the Korean alphabet

A very brief history:

Hangul (한글) is sometimes written as ‘Hangeul’ and is referred to as Chosun gul (조선글) in North Korea and China. Hangul is the alphabet used almost exclusively in the Korean language with the exception of a few Chinese characters (hanja/한자) used in formal writing.

Hangul was invented by the Korean King Sejong the Great during the Joseon Dynasty (which is where we get the name ‘Chosun gul’/조선글 for Korean) in 1443. It consists of 19 consonants and 21 vowel letters, making it a phonetic alphabet like English. However, unlike English, the vowels and consonants are grouped into blocks to form a syllable. So ㅎ ㅏㄴ becomes 한. Each of the letters was written to mimic the shape of the mouth and tongue when pronouncing it. For example the letter ㄹ makes a combined r/l sound and so looks like a tongue rolling the sound (though there are other reasons besides this that the letters look as they do).

Since Hangul was simple and phonetic it meant that anyone, regardless of status, gender or education could read and write. Gradually, Hangul began to be used more and more and people who had previously been unable to share their thoughts through the written word were given a voice. Ladies-in-waiting wrote court novels based on the secret lives of the royalty they served, a woman could write the genealogy of her family (a job usually undertaken by the male head of the family) a poor peddler could write poetry and a merchant could put forth articles on his political opinion. The creation of Hangul changed history forever.

Some of the combined sounds a Hangul can be a bit challenging but this alphabet is otherwise very simple to learn, which greatly simplifies the language learning process for any student of the language. If you are interested in learning to read and write Hangul, please refer to this following links and/or consult the Resources section of this blog.
Good luck in your studies!

ZKorean’s Guide

PopPopping Korean -a great app I used often in my early days of learning Korean.

This super-helpful comic really helped Hangul to ‘click’ for me.

Talk To Me In Korean‘s video lessons on Hangul

Not perfect on pronunciation but still a great video for making it simple.

Cool educational video