Hangul

Hangul (chosongul in North Korea) is the writing system used in both Koreas, and it consists of 24 letters. Since there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, one could even argue that it’s easier to learn hangul than the English alphabet.

What makes hangul different from our alphabet, though, is that the 24 letters are used to build blocks (think: syllables) that are composed of two or more letters. In Korean, we can’t use the letters individually as we would in English. Although it would make sense to simply arrange the letters in the order that they should be pronounced (e.g. 사ᄋ for ‘sang’ when s = ᄉ, a =ᅡ, ng = ᄋ), we actually have to group them together to form complete, syllabic blocks (상 = sang). Essentially, one block contains one syllable.


But why would you want to learn hangul? The reason why I wanted to learn hangul, without even learning the language itself, is that I wanted to know how to pronounce Korean song names. I like to organize my music collection in a way that every song and artist retains its original writing style. Kanji, hiragana and katakana for J-Pop; Chinese for C-Pop; and hangul for K-Pop, respectively. Other than that, I think it’s fun to know how to read foreign scripts.

It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days to learn it (and earn the bragging rights that follow). Here are three multimedia resources that can help you:

Hangul Letter Chart — Displays every hangul letter combination.

Hangul Soundboard — Check how every vowel and consontant is pronounced. Includes examples. Excellent for distinguishing the nuances.

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