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Hanguel (Korean Alphabet)

A "Hangeul" is the official name for the Korean alphabet. Because spoken languages have some limits in communication, mankind invented letters. However, there are less than 100 alphabets now in use in the world while at the same time there are over thousands of spoken languages. Hangeul ranks in the world's most used written languages. Hangeul is unique because it was invented by one person over a short period of time and became established as a nation's alphabet system. Moreover, the inventor published a book on the usage of the language with explanations of the alphabet system. This was a unique historical event with no precedent. Scholars in linguistics all over the world acknowledge that the explanation is logical and systematic.

Hangeul was invented by King Sejong and his scholars in Jib-hyeon-jeon in the 15th century. It was called "Hun-min-jeong-eum" at the time of its invention. It is known as one of the most scientific and practical alphabet systems and served as basis for the development of Korean culture and science. Hun-min-jeong-eum is a National Treasure (#30), and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997.

  • Characteristics
  • Characters
  • Phonetic System
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar


Hangeul is one of the most inventive and original alphabets in the world and has unique characteristics as follows:

First, while it is unknown who is responsible for creating most alphabet systems in the world, Hangeul was invented by King Sejong of Joseon and his scholars in 1443.

Second, Hangeul was not influenced by other countries' alphabet systems, and was invented originally by taking the shape of the vocal organs as well as the shape of heaven, earth, and humankind.

Characteristics of Hangeul
  Characteristics Shape
Consonants Shape of tongue blocking the throat
Shape of tongue sticking to upper tooth gum
Shape of lips
Shape of teeth
Shape of throat
Vowels · Shape of round heaven
Shape of flat earth
l Shape of a human standing

Third, the Korean alphabet is based on a systematic and scientific principle, and you can produce almost limitless number of characters by combining the basic five consonants of ㄱ, ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅅ, and ㅇ and the three basic vowels  ·, ㅡ, and ㅣ.

Characteristics of Hangeul
  Rules Examples
Consonants Add lines to the basic consonants ㄱ ㅋ, ㄴ ㄷ, ㅁ ㅂ, ㅅ ㅈ, ㅇ ㅎ
Repeat the same letter or add another letter ㄱ ㄲ, ㄷ ㄸ, ㅂ ㅃ, ㅅ ㅆ, ㅂ+ㅅ=ㅄ....
Vowels Combine the basic vowels ㅣ+ ㆍ = ㅏ,  ㆍ+ㅡ= ㅗ,  ㅗ+ㅏ=ㅘ,....

Fourth, as Korean characters are phonetic symbols, any pronunciation can be written correctly and easily in Korean letters.

Fifth, from the perspective of modern linguistics, science, and technology, the Korean alphabet is easy to type or print out on computers as well as to send text messages on cell phones.


Korean characters have gone through changes from the 15th century, and now the current alphabet is as follows:

First Consonants (19):
ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ,ㅅ, ㅇ,ㅈ,ㅊ,ㅋ,ㅌ,ㅍ,ㅎ,ㄲ,ㄸ,ㅃ,ㅆ,ㅉ

Vowels (21):

Final Consonants (27):
ㄱ,ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ,ㅁ,ㅂ,ㅅ,ㅇ,ㅈ,ㅊ,ㅋ,ㅌ,ㅍ,ㅎ,ㄲ,ㄳ,ㄵ,ㄶ,ㅄ,ㅆ,ㄺ,ㄻ,ㄼ,ㄽ,ㄾ,ㄿ,ㅭ

Phonetic System

Syllables compsed of a vowel (in this case consonant, ㅇ is added to the vowel when writing)

ㅇ + ㅏ = 아
ㅇ + ㅗ = 오

Syllables composed of a vowel and a consonant

ㅇ + ㅓ + ㅂ = 업
ㅇ + ㅏ + ㄹ = 알

Syllables composed of a consonant and a vowel

ㄱ + ㅏ = 가
ㄹ + ㅜ = 루

Syllables composed of a consonant, a vowel and a consonant

ㄱ + ㅜ + ㄴ = 군
ㅁ + ㅏ + ㄹ = 말


First, Korean vocabulary can be categorized into pure Korean words, words that derived from Chinese, and words with origins in other foreign languages. Among these, the number of the words that derived from Chinese are the highest.

Second, words that describe the five senses or symbolize things are highly developed in Korean. Pure Korean words especially can express various nuisances in the senses.

Third, Korean has a lot of onomatopoeia, that is, words imitating sounds, and words describing motions or shapes. By changing the vowels, the word can give different nuisances.

Fourth, Korean has a lot of vocabulary for blood relations. The English word "aunt" can be expressed in several other ways based on the specific relationship.


First, Korean has highly developed and detailed particles and verb endings. Each particle and verb ending has a different meaning and grammatical function.

친구 네 시 비행기기 때문에 공항에 나간.
가: Subjective, 로: Adverbial, 기 때문에: Connecting Adverbial, 다: Sentence Ending

Second, Korean sentences have the order of a subject, an object, and a verb. While verbs are usually placed at the end of the sentence, other components can be placed freely.

Third, in Korean, honorifics are highly developed. There are various ways for the speaker to express respect for the listener or for the subject of the sentence on many levels. The variety of the levels of expressing respect for others is one of the prominent features of the Korean language.