The first thing you should know when learning Korean is the Hangul (한글) alphabet and I will be covering it in about two or three posts. With this one, I just want to briefly introduce it in order to kind of put a name to the face, so to speak, and give you some background.
Some facts about the Korean alphabet:
- Hangul is actually the easiest part of learning Korean; it is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.
- It was originally called “Hunmin chong-um”, which literally meant “the correct sounds for the instruction of the people.”
- It was created under King Sejong during the Choson Dynasty (1393-1910) because he hated the fact that the common people, who could not understand the complicated Chinese characters that were being used by the educated, were not able to read and write.
“Being of foreign origin, Chinese characters are incapable of capturing uniquely Korean meanings. Therefore, many common people have no way to express their thoughts and feelings. Out of my sympathy for their difficulties, I have created a set of 28 letters. The letters are very easy to learn, and it is my fervent hope that they improve the quality of life of all people.” –King Sejong, at some point.
(Chinese has thousands of characters, so thank God for good ol’ King Sejong)
- Only 24 of the original 28 characters are used today
- A Korean syllable is divided into three parts: Ch’osong (initial consonant), chungsong (peak vowel), and chongsong (final consonant).
- Hangul is (technically) supposed to be written starting toward the top-left and continuing down and to the right. (See below if that made no sense.)
To me, as long as it’s legible, I don’t care. Nobody is going to stand over my shoulder and force me to write a certain way!
And that’s pretty much it: your intro to Hangul! I’ll see you in part 2 for Appearance & Sound where you’ll learn how to pronounce each character (and maybe even write your name!)
나중에 봐요! (See you later) 👋👋
오늘의 제 2노래 (today’s 2nd song): Young Heart by Witches