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Learn the Korean Alphabet, Hangul, from A to Z!

If you’ve ever wanted to sing Korean songs, write a letter in Korean, read Korean books, be able to get around in Korea, or just jump-start your Korean learning, you’re in the right place. Even if you’re an absolute beginner to Korean, by the time you’re done reading this article you’ll be able to read and write Hangul like a pro — and you’ll get a feel for Korean culture and learn some Korean vocabulary at the same time!

What is Hangul? What does hangul mean? Korean uses 한글 (Hangeul) or Hangul alphabet as its writing system. Some people think hangul means the Korean language but it’s the name of the Korean alphabet letters. 한 (han) means ‘Korean’ and 글 (geul) means ‘letter’. And ‘Korean language’ (specifically, South Korean language) in Korean is 한국어 (hangugeo).

The biggest strength of 한글 (Hangeul) is that it is very easy to learn how to read Korean and write Korean texts. There are many loan words in the Korean language that come from English, such as “taxi,” “bus,” “camera,” and so forth, so you will find yourself understanding the words in the signs or menus just by knowing how to read hangul, the Korean alphabet.

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If you want to master the Korean language and become fluent, you must learn to read hangul first.
And you need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Korean learning beginners!

FREE Korean Alphabet eBook

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This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Korean Writing

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The Korean alphabet has been called “brilliant” by linguists who study how the alphabet relates to the spoken language. Indeed, the alphabet, which is called hangul, is purposely simple in design. King 세종 (Sejong) invented 한글 (Hangeul) and announced it to the public in 1446, and it has been the official writing system ever since. King 세종 (Sejong) invented this system, which was one of the many great things that he did for the country and the people, because he felt that it was not right for Korea not to have its own writing system.

Before the invention of Hangul, people used the borrowed characters from Chinese that had the closest sounds to the Korean sounds, but this was not an ideal system for writing Korean. Hanja, the Chinese script, was so complex that only the very wealthy elite were able to understand and write it. Most people in Korea were illiterate.

When the Korean alphabet was introduced it quickly became popular and was used by everyone. Now, people consider Korean hangul writing to be one of the most scientific writing systems in the world because it can express more sounds more accurately than any other writing system can. The name hangul can be directly translated to mean “great script” or “Korean script.” Hangul is used in North and South Korea, but in North Korea it is called chosongul.

There are 24 letters in the Korean alphabet: 14 consonants and 10 vowels. There are compound consonants and vowels too, but we form them by combining the basic consonants and vowels. Therefore, if you understand the basic consonants and vowels, of which there are just twenty-four, you can basically read everything in Korean. You form hangul words by combining consonants and vowels. Unlike in English, in which you just write one letter after another in a straight line to form words, in Korean you form a square or a block for each syllable. For example, if you want to write the English name “Sam,” it’s three letters written one after another in a line, but in Korean, it’s 샘, one letter, composed of three parts, written in a square. If you want to learn how to write your name in Korean, check out our Korean name page. These blocks are then placed left to right to form Korean words. The writing is then read left to right, similar to western writing.

When students first begin learning the alphabet it is helpful to remember that all consonants are designed to represent the shape the mouth will make as you pronounce it, and all vowels are designed using horizontal or vertical strokes. Learning the alphabet will become the basis of all further Korean lessons the student chooses to undertake, so it’s important to have a clear understanding before you move on to other lessons. Though the alphabet may seem difficult to learn at first, students should keep in mind that it was designed to be learned by all Koreans and there is nothing elitist about it.

If a student does find themselves feeling intimidated or becoming frustrated with the learning process, a Korean podcast can help them overcome any feelings of stress. KoreanClass101 offers podcasts that can help students further their studies of the Korean language and get them to a point where they are comfortable conversing in the language with anyone. Learning Korean letters can actually be one of the simplest portions of your lessons. Because of its inherent design the alphabet might not be so easy even a baby can learn it, but it does come close. Once you take the time to learn the alphabet, the rest of the Korean language should follow easily.

2. Hangul Chart: Korean Consonants

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g

n

d

r/l

m

b

s

no sound/ng

j

ch

k

t

p

h


kk

tt

pp

ss

jj

Download the Hangul Chart Image

The first hangul alphabet chart is the Korean character list of the basic consonants in Korean, with their similar sounds in English. The first 3 rows are basic consonants and the last row is double consonants.

Please bear in mind that Korean consonants don’t sound exactly the same as English consonants. For example, the romanization of ㄱ is ‘g’ but the actual sound is like between g and k in English. Here’s the list of consonants that might confuse you:

  • (g): It sounds between g and k in English.
  • (n): It sounds between n and d in English.
  • (d): It sounds between d and t in English.
  • (b): It sounds between b and p in English.
  • (j): It sounds between n and d in English.

Please note that ㅇ has no sound if it comes as the initial consonant. For instance, 아 is ㅇ (slient) + ㅏ (a) so it sounds ‘a’. However, when it comes as the final consonant, it sounds like ‘ng’ so 강 is ㄱ (g) + ㅏ (a) + ㅇ (ng) so it sounds ‘gang’ and it means ‘river’ in Korea.

3. Hangul Chart: Korean Vowels

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a

ya

eo

yeo

o

yo

u

yu

eu

i

ae

yae

e

ye

wa

wae

oe

weo

we

wi

ui




Download the Hangul Chart Image

This Korean characters chart is the list of the hangul vowels in Korean, with the romanized hangul reading written below. The first 2 rows are basic vowels and the rest are vowel combination - You can make more vowel sounds just by combining basic vowels.

4. Hangul Chart: Consonant + Vowel

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a

ya

eo

yeo

o

yo

u

yu

eu

i

g

ga

gya

geo

gyeo

go

gyo

gu

gyu

geu

gi

n

na

nya

neo

nyeo

no

nyo

nu

nyu

neu

ni

d

da

dya

deo

dyeo

do

dyo

du

dyu

deu

di

r

ra

rya

reo

ryeo

ro

ryo

ru

ryu

reu

ri

m

ma

mya

meo

myeo

mo

myo

mu

myu

meu

mi

b

ba

bya

beo

byeo

bo

byo

bu

byu

beu

bi

s

sa

sya

seo

syeo

so

syo

su

syu

seu

si

slient

a

ya

eo

yeo

o

yo

u

yu

eu

i

j

ja

jya

jeo

jyeo

jo

jyo

ju

jyu

jeu

ji

ch

cha

chya

cheo

chyeo

cho

chyo

chu

chyu

cheu

chi

k

ka

kya

keo

kyeo

ko

kyo

ku

kyu

keu

ki

t

ta

tya

teo

tyeo

to

tyo

tu

tyu

teu

ti

p

pa

pya

peo

pyeo

po

pyo

pu

pyu

peu

pi

h

ha

hya

heo

hyeo

ho

hyo

hu

hyu

heu

hi

kk

kka

kkya

kkeo

kkyeo

kko

kkyo

kku

kkyu

kkeu

kki

tt

tta

ttya

tteo

ttyeo

tto

ttyo

ttu

ttyu

tteu

tti

pp

ppa

ppya

ppeo

ppyeo

ppo

ppyo

ppu

ppyu

ppeu

ppi

ss

ssa

ssya

sseo

ssyeo

sso

ssyo

ssu

ssyu

sseu

ssi

jj

jja

jjya

jjeo

jjyeo

jjo

jjyo

jju

jjyu

jjeu

jji

Download the Hangul Chart Image

Check the Korean hangul charts above. You’ll find some patterns with the Korean syllable blocks in the list of Korean letters. They are just combinations of Korean consonants and vowels. Forming a Korean letter using the consonants and the vowels from above is very easy. As mentioned above, you form hangul letters by putting them into a square shape and that’s a Korean syllable.

1) If the vowel has a long vertical line, like ㅏ, ㅑ, ㅓ, ㅕ, or ㅣ, the consonant comes in on the left half, and the vowel comes in on the right half.

For Example:

  • ㅇ + ㅏ = 아 [a]
  • ㄱ + ㅓ = 거 [geo]
  • ㅂ + ㅣ = 비 [bi]

2) If the vowel has a long horizontal line, like ㅗ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅠ, or ㅡ, the consonant comes in on the upper half, and the vowel comes in on the lower half.

For Example:

  • ㅇ + ㅗ = 오 [o]
  • ㅈ + ㅜ = 주 [ju]
  • ㅋ + ㅠ = 큐 [kyu]

You can make even more combinations by combining a consonant and a combined vowel as follows. Don’t worry - you don’t need to memorize them all! You only need to understand how they’re combined. You’ll naturally read and write once you understand them.


ae

yae

e

ye

wa

oe

weo

we

we

wi

ui

g

gae

gyae

ge

gye

gwa

gwae

goe

gweo

gwe

gwi

gui

n

nae

nyae

ne

nye

nwa

nwae

noe

nweo

nwe

nwi

nui

d

dae

dyae

de

dye

dwa

dwae

doe

dweo

dwe

dwi

dui

r

rae

ryae

re

rye

rwa

rwae

roe

rweo

rwe

rwi

rui

m

mae

myae

me

mye

mwa

mwae

moe

mweo

mwe

mwi

mui

b

bae

byae

be

bye

bwa

bwae

boe

bweo

bwe

bwi

bui

s

sae

syae

se

sye

swa

swae

soe

sweo

swe

swi

sui

slient

ae

yae

e

ye

wa

wae

oe

weo

we

wi

ui

j

jae

jyae

je

jye

jwa

jwae

joe

jweo

jwe

jwi

jui

ch

chae

chyae

che

chye

chwa

chwae

choe

chweo

chwe

chwi

chui

k

kae

kyae

ke

kye

kwa

kwae

koe

kweo

kwe

kwi

kui

t

tae

tyae

te

tye

twa

twae

toe

tweo

twe

twi

tui

p

pae

pyae

pe

pye

pwa

pwae

poe

pweo

pwe

pwi

pui

h

hae

hyae

he

hye

hwa

hwae

hoe

hweo

hwe

hwi

hui

kk

kkae

kkyae

kke

kkye

kkwa

kkwae

kkoe

kkweo

kkwe

kkwi

kkui

tt

ttae

ttyae

tte

ttye

ttwa

ttwae

ttoe

ttweo

ttwe

ttwi

ttui