Let’s Learn About Korean!

I don’t believe I’ve ever covered the language of my temporary home in my blog, so here goes.

As is normal with languages, Korean was first a spoken language and then much later adopted a writing system. Both the Chinese writing system and Buddhism arrived in Korea around the same time, which gave Korea its first written language as well as religion. Thus 한자(hanja), the Chinese-based writing system for the Korean language, came to be. Korea used these Chinese letters until the 1400s when King Sejong, disturbed by the nation’s very low literacy rates, decided to develop a superior writing system engineered specifically for the Korean language, called 한굴 (hangul). The Chinese writing system was far too complicated and ill-suited for the Korean language, thus the low literacy rates. Though the writing system was successful and brilliant, it was not permanently implemented until early 20th century. Since then, hanja has slowly been edged out of day-to-day usage, and now is hardly seen at all. Because hangul is now the official writing system, the younger generation is not required to learn hanja and is becoming more and more obsolete.

Enough history, though. Let’s take a look at what is said to be the ‘world’s most incredible alphabet’.

The 한굴alphabet is comprised of 14 basic consonants and their respective variations:

ㅂ/ㅃ = b,p/bb             ㅈ/ㅉ = j/jj                  ㄷ/ㄸ = d/dd

ㄱ/ㄲ = g,k/gg            ㅅ/ㅆ = s/ss                 ㅁ = m

ㄴ = n                          ㅇ = silent/ng              ㄹ = r,l

ㅎ = h                          ㅋ = k                          ㅌ = t

ㅊ = ch                        ㅍ = p

And the vowels:

ㅏ a ㅐ ae ㅑ yaㅒyae

ㅓ eoㅔ eㅕ yeoㅖye

ㅗ o ㅙ waeㅚ oeㅛyo

ㅜ uㅝ woㅞ weㅟwi

ㅠ yuㅡ euㅢ uiㅣ i

Here are some easy Korean words:

심성 Samsung

기아 Kia

김치 kimchi

And here are some “Konglish” words you find in day-to-day life:

커피 coffee

카페 café

라떼 latte

아메리카노 americano

치킨 [fried] chicken

서비스 service


Thanks to this blog post I actually got a lot better with my knowledge of which keys are where on the Korean keyboard, since I don’t actually have them marked on my laptop (oops!), and increased my typing speed considerably.


As of right now I have less than a month left in Korea, and I am slowly coming to terms with it. Currently bogged down by group project presentations and the stress of impending finals, but I’m trying to take advantage of every second I have left here!


That’s all, I hope you learned something today! Thanks 😊

  • Ash Ruiz

    I love the spotlight on Korean <3 Careful with your typos! 🙂 (한국어를 배우자!* / 한글* / 삼*성 ~! ))
    글 is actually a word for… well, written words! I hope you get to share your experiences you get back (Korea Club!!) Good luck!