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Lesson Transcript

Hi! Welcome to Introduction to Korean. My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone.
I'm Jaehwi!
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Korean writing.
The Basics.
Similar to English, Korean also uses an alphabet. However, there is a big difference in the way Korean is written.
Unlike the English alphabet where each letter stands alone, Korean consonants and vowels are combined and are grouped together into blocks. Each block represents 1 syllable.
You can think of each block as a square which you need to fill in, using consonants and vowels, until you've created a syllable.
Every block will require a minimum of 1 consonant and 1 vowel, to create a syllable.
Usually though, Korean syllables will consist of three parts—the initial, medial and final.
Initials are written at the top left of the block. Initials will always be consonants.
Keep in mind though, that this doesn't mean that syllables in Korean will always start with a consonant sound. It only means that vowels cannot be written in the initial position. A silent consonant could take this position, thus starting the syllable with a vowel sound.
Medials on the other hand, will always be a vowel. It could be a single vowel, or a double vowel, in which case it'll have gliding sound sometimes perceived as a Y or W sound.
The most basic Korean block then, would consist of a consonant-vowel combination.
가 (ga)
Sometimes, a block may include a final. Finals, are always consonants, and are positioned below the vowel at the bottom of the syllabic block.
This means that the initial-medial-final structure would be a combination of a consonant, a vowel or double vowel, and a consonant.
Here's a useful phrase which includes various syllabic block structures we've just discussed.
As you can see, the first block contains the consonant-vowel-consonant format we just mentioned.
The second block is the basic consonant-vowel format. The vowel is a vertical one, so the consonant is written on the left.
The third block contains a double vowel, so the structure is initial-medial, with the initial being a consonant, and the medial a double vowel.
Altogether it's...
Writing Korean Characters
There are 3 basic rules for writing Korean characters—they are written from left to right, top to bottom, and from outside to inside.
This means that when you start writing a syllable in Korean, you would start at the top left corner of the block.
Start at the top left corner and work down to the bottom right. Usually, the topmost horizontal line would come first, followed by any vertical strokes. If the consonant starts with a vertical stroke, you would start from the top left and work your way down, followed by any horizontal strokes.
As the first consonant is a 'ㄱ'(gieuk), you would start from the top left and move toward the right for the first stroke, then move downward.
With Korean vowels, similar rules apply—you go from left to right and top to bottom. Most vowels in Korean start with a vertical stroke, however, so you would usually work your way from top to bottom, then left to right.
We said initials, or the consonant, were written first. So if you put these two characters together...
With a horizontal vowel, you would write the initial, or consonant first,
followed by the vowel below.
If you had a final consonant, then the order would be..
And should the medial be a double vowel, with both horizontal and vertical components, the horizontal vowel would be written first, followed by the vertical vowel to the right.
There you have it. Now you know how to write Korean characters within a syllabic block!
In this lesson, you learned the basic rules of Korean writing. You learned that Korean consonants and vowels are grouped together to form syllabic blocks. You learned that there are usually three parts to a syllable—the initial, which is always a consonant, a medial, which can be a vowel or double vowel, and a final which is always a consonant. And lastly, Korean characters are written from the top left to the bottom right.
That's all for this lesson. If you'ld like to learn more about Korean writing, check out our 'Hana Hana Hangul' series!
In the next lesson, you'll be entering Korean boot camp, where you'll learn useful beginner phrases to get you speaking Korean right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!