The Korean Alphabet is Easier to Learn Than You Imagine

Getting familiar with the Korean alphabet, or the Hangul is the very first step in learning the Korean language. The Hangul is perhaps the most unique form of writing system from other languages you are familiar with. Yet many individuals assume that Korean words are similar to Chinese characters that are filled with intimidating squiggles, and thus, give up even before learning Korean.

 

The truth is, while Mandarin consists of tens of thousands of characters to learn, the Korean alphabets are not like Chinese characters. They are like Lego bricks — If you want to form a word, you only need a few pieces of strokes that complete the pronunciation of that single word. The Hangul is nothing like Chinese characters. It is far easier to learn than you can imagine. Unlike the Russian Cyrillic, or the Japanese 'script', which consists of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, Modern Korean has only one writing system, the Hangul.

 

The Korean alphabet (Hangul) was created by King Sejong, with the sole purpose of making the Korean language easy to learn and use. His ingenious invention ultimately paid off when literacy the Korean populace rose within his kingdom. The Hangul is so easy to learn that any person can learn Hangul in just less than an hour.

 

King Sejong the Great

King Sejong the Great invented the Hangul writing system in 1446.

 

The Hangul is a writing system that was constructed with language students in mind. It exists not to intimidate or confuse you, but rather to provide the quickest access to Korean culture possible. The only challenge you face in learning the Hangul is that of unfamiliarity, which can be overcome if you set your mind on learning the Hangul with full focus for just an hour.

 

The Hangul system has only 24 letters and it does not take long to learn. It is easy to scribe. One letter consists of a circle (ㅇ), one consists of a square (ㅁ), and two of the others are just straight lines (ㅣ), (ㅡ).

 

Korean Hangul Script

Korean Hangul Script (I)

 

Korean Hangul Script (II)

 

Hangul is completely phonetic, unlike their Chinese counterparts. While Chinese characters may have phonetic components to them, every Korean word is pronounced the way it is written. There aren't any hidden sound or pronunciation that can confuse brand-new learners right off the bat.

 

Take English for instance. There are numerous examples of hidden pronunciation in English as well as in the Romance Languages. There are different ways to pronounce the suffix 'ough' in English. The words like “through”, “tough”, “rough”, “thought”, and “enough” are pronounced differently. Whereas for French, “dis” and “dit” are pronounced without the “s” and “t” at the end. The distinctions in spelling and pronunciation can make it tough to put two-and-two together.

 

The reason you are fluent in English right now even though English has tons of spelling and pronunciation that may not make sense to you is because of your years of constant learning and usage of that language. If you can check out the Hangul writing system, then you will be surprised that it is extremely hard for you to have similar problems with pronunciation.

 

When pronouncing Korean names or places, there are only a handful of exceptions where the pronunciation isn't exactly like how the word is written. Fortunately, you can quickly learn these in a short time! After you become familiar with the characters in the Korean language, acquiring brand-new Korean words will become much easier.

 

If you have a way to help Korean beginners learn the Hangul in the fastest way possible, submit your recommendations in the comment section below.

 

If you're living in Singapore and would like to gain access to some of the more affordable Korean language courses here, you may check out this link at the Resource section. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter where we keep you updated on new posts each month.

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