• Learn the Korean Alphabet

  • Learn to Write in Hangul

  • Start Learning Korean

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Introduction to Hangul

Hangul is the official alphabet of the Korean language and it’s used in both South and North Korea.  The alphabet was created in the year 1443 in the Joseon Dynasty.

The Korean alphabet is made up of 19 consonant letters and 21 vowel characters for a total of 40 main letters.  There are some obsolete characters and combination characters as well but the main alphabet is 40 letters. Unlike English however the letters are combined into blocks of usually 2 to 3 characters for each syllable.  “Han” for example isn’t written as “ㅎㅏㄴ” it’s written as “한”

The name of the Korean alphabet, Hangul (한글) means great script in Korean.  Han (한) means great and Geul (글) means script.

The most interesting feature of the Korean Alphabet is the design of the letters.  The shape of each letter is designed after the features of the sounds they represent.  Consonants are based on the shape your mouth makes when you pronounce them while vowels are made from easy to identify horizontal or vertical lines. The character ㄱ for example is the shape your toungue takes when you make a “g” sound.

Each consonant has its own name.  ㄱ for example is called giyeok (기역). The vowels are just named after the sounds they make like “ah” for the vowelㅏ.




About me

My name is Haneul.  I was born into a Korean family but grew up in Canada.  I never really learned Korean until I was in my 20s when I decided to teach myself so I could communicate better with my extended family.

Today I’m fluent in Korean and I live in Seoul South Korea.  I built this website to help other people learn Korean like I did.

My hobbies include reading, watching Korean dramas, listening to K-Pop and cooking all kinds of different food.

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Learn the Korean Alphabet

We’ll start by learning all the consonant characters in the Korean alphabet.  Every Hangul letter has a name and it’s own sound.  Some characters even have multiple sounds depending on whether or not they’re at the beginning of a word, beginning of a syllable or the end of a word.

Here are the Hangul consonants, their names and the sounds they make.

giyokGiyok (기역):

Start of word: k like in kite

Start of a syllable: g like in go

End of a word: k like in talk

nieunNieun (니은):

Start of a word: n like in no

Start of a syllable: n like in no

End of a word: n like in no

digeutDigeut (디귿):

Start of a word: t like in talk

Start of a syllable: d like in find

End of a word: t like in not

rieulRieul (리을 ):

Start of a word: r like in run

Start of a syllable: r like in run

End of a word: l like in feel

mieumMieum (미음):

Start of a word: m like in mom

Start of a syllable: m like in mom

End of a word: m like in hum

bieupBieup (비읍):

Start of a word: p like in pool

Start of a syllable: b like in back

End of a word: p like in lap

siotSiot (시옷):

Start of a word: s like in show

Start of a syllable: s like in show

End of a word: t like in not

ieungIeung (이응):

Start of a word: no sound

Start of a syllable:no sound

End of a word: ng like in king

jieutJieut (지읒):

Start of a word: ch like in chop

Start of a syllable: j like in jar

End of a word: t like in not

chieutChieut (치읓):

Start of a word: ch like in itch

Start of a syllable: ch like in itch

End of a word: t like in not

kieukKieuk (키읔):

Start of a word: kh like in khaki

Start of a syllable: kh like in khaki

End of a word: kh like in khaki

tieutTieut (티읕):

Start of a word: t like in tip

Start of a syllable: t like in tip

End of a word: t like in not

pieupPieup (피읖):

Start of word: p like in pit

Start of a syllable: p like in pit

End of a word: p like in nap

hieutHieut (히읕):

Start of word: h like in hot

Start of a syllable: h like in hot

End of a word: no sound


There are also a couple of double Hangul consonants in the Korean alphabet.  They are as follows:

ssang-giyokSsang Giyok (쌍기역):

Start of word: g like in gone

Start of a syllable: g like in gone

End of a word: g like in gone

ssang-digeutSsang Digeut (쌍디귿):

Start of word: d like in dog

Start of a syllable: d like in dog

End of a word: d like in dog

ssang-bieupSsang Bieup (쌍비읍):

Start of word: b like in bird

Start of a syllable: b like in bird

End of a word: b like in bird

ssang-siotSsang Siot (쌍시옷):

Start of word: s like in some

Start of a syllable: s like in some

End of a word: t like in not

ssang-jieutSsang Jieut (쌍지읒):

Start of word: j like in Jim

Start of a syllable: j like in Jim

End of a word: t like in not


The vowels in Hangul, the Korean alphabet don’t have names like the consonants do, instead they just have one sort of simple sound.  A lot of the vowels have very similar sounds so do your best to try to figure out the difference. You’ll notice that adding another line to it essentially ads a y to the sound and adding a ㅗ or a ㅜ is like adding a w sound to the vowel.


like in hah


like in run


like in dough


like in moon


like in good


like in meet


like in at


like in get


like in yawn


like in yum


like in yoke


like in view


like in yak


like in yes


like in wand


like in wax


like in wonder


like in wet


like in wait


like in week


like in quey


Now that you’ve had an introduction to the Korean alphabet you’re ready to start combining these characters into syllables and start writing words!

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Writing in Hangul

In the Korean alphabet the different Hangul letters aren’t written one after another like in English.  Instead they’re stacked into little blocks for each syllable.

For example, the word Hangul isn’t written like:

Hangeul One Character at a Time

It’s instead written as two syllable blocks like:

Hangeul Written Correctly

Consonants Plus Vowels

Combining the different Hangul letters together is easy.  The first common type of combination is simply one consonant and one vowel.

Here are some examples:


The consonant here is “k” and the vowel is “a” which gives this syllable a “ka” sound.


The consonant here is “s” and the vowel is “a” which gives this syllable a “sa” sound.


The consonant here is “m” and the vowel is “o” which gives this syllable a “mo” sound.


The consonant here is “r” and the vowel is “i” which gives this syllable a “ri” sound.


Consonants Plus Vowels Plus Another Consonant

Next we have syllables made up of three Hangul letters.  These are simply consonant plus vowel plus consonant.

Here are some examples:


The first consonant here is “t” followed by the vowel “a” and ending with the consonant “l” for a “tal” sound.


The first consonant here is “n” followed by the vowel “eu” and ending with the consonant “n” for a “neun” sound.


The first consonant here is “r” followed by the vowel “a” and ending with the consonant “m” for a “ram” sound.


The first consonant here is “m” followed by the vowel “o” and ending with the consonant “t” for a “mot” sound.


When writing these 3 character syllables you have to remember to pay attention to the sounds of the consonants.  Many Hangul consonants have a different sound if they’re at the start of a syllable and a different sound at the end of a syllable.

You’ll also notice that these characters are read from left to right and top to bottom.

Sometimes you write the characters in a vertical stack of three Hangul letters and some times you write two beside each other with the third one below them.

As you get more familiar with writing the Korean alphabet you’ll start to get a feel for how the letters fit together properly.


Hangul Syllables Starting with Vowels

The next type of syllable you’ll encounter in Korean is a syllable that begins with a vowel.  These can be either just one vowel or a vowel followed by a consonant.

However things are a little different for characters that start with vowels.

You can’t have a syllable block starting with a vowel for some reason so instead you have to put the silent character ieung (ㅇ) before the vowel.

Here are some examples:


This is simply the silent ieung character plus the vowel “a” and the sound of this syllable is “a”


This is simply the silent ieung character plus the vowel “yo” and the sound of this syllable is “yo”


This has the silent ieung character, then the vowel “eu” and it ends with the consonant “m”. The sound of this syllable is “eum”


This has the silent ieung character, then the vowel yeo and it ends with the consonant “k”. The sound of this syllable is “yeok”


Hangul Syllables with 4 Characters

In some cases you’ll even see syllable blocks written with 4 Hangul characters although these are not as common as the 2 or 3 character blocks.


Examples of Words Written in the Korean Alphabet

Here are some examples of Korean words written in Hangul.  You should be able to read or sound them out easily now.

Hangeul Written Correctly





If you were able to read these words then congratulations, you’re well on your way to becoming fluent in Korean!

Printable Flashcards

To help you memorize the Korean alphabet I’ve created these simple to use Hangul flash cards. Simply download the pdf files, print them on card stock or some kind of other thicker paper, cut them out and start memorizing!

There are two pages of flash cards and four files, page 1 front and back and page 2 front and back. They’re designed to print on both sides of the paper.  You might have to play around with your printer and test print a couple of times until you get the cards lined up correctly on your specific printer.


Page 1 Front

Contains all the Hangul consonants plus 1 vowel

Page 1 Back

The English answers for the Hangul consonants and 1 vowel.

Page 2 Front

This page contains the rest of the Hangul vowels

Page 2 Back

Contains the English answers for the rest of the Hangul vowels

Learn Korean

Despite being born into a Korean family because I lived in Canada my whole life I never really learned Korean.  I was able to pick up a few odd words and phrases from my parents sure but I was never able to really communicate with my older relatives who didn’t speak any English.

When I was 22 I visited South Korea for the first time and when I returned I was determined to finally teach myself Korean.  I tried many different books, courses and websites, some were definitely better than others (I have listed a few I like below).

Everyone has their own ways of learning and for me Rocket Korean was the one I clicked with the most. I was able to effectively communicate with my older relatives after about 6 months of serious study!  I’ve since moved to Seoul and I’m very confident interacting with the people who live here.

Below is a little bit more information about my current favourite 3 Korean language learning tools.

Korean made simple book

Korean Made Simple: A beginner’s guide to learning the Korean language

Format : Paperback Book with Audio files | List price $24.99 (see lowest price)

This is one of my favorite beginning to intermediate level Korean textbooks to learn how to read, write, speak and understand Korean. Learn over 1,000 vocabulary words and phrases, including practice dialogues and explanations. Each chapter builds off the last.

A lot of language books can be intimidating but this one seems to make the learning fun and easy with its cute art and practice sections with answer keys. Audio files to accompany the book are also provided.

If I had to choose only one beginner book to use for self study, this would be the one.

Check Out Korean Made Simple (opens in new window)


Korean Flash Cards Kit

Korean Flash Cards Kit

Format : Flash Cards with booklet and Audio CD | List price $18.95 (see lowest price)

These are a great learning tool to help you learn 1,000 basic Korean words and phrases quickly and easily (Hangul & Romanized Forms).

Key features of Korean Flash Cards include:

200 Hole-punched flash cards
Over 1,000 Korean words and sentences
All of the most commonly used-words
Native-speaker audio recordings
Sample sentences in Korean
A 32-page booklet with sorting indexes and practice tips

The FRONT of each card contains:

Main vocabulary word
4 related words and phrases to help you use it.

The BACK of each card contains:

Main word
Related words’ English meanings
Korean script (hangul)
A sample sentence in Korean with romanization and English translation.

These can really extend one’s vocabulary and are easily portable for studying anywhere! (Audio-CD Included)

Korean Flash Cards Kit (opens in new window)

Rocket Korean

Rocket Korean

Format : Online Course | List price $149.95

Rocket Korean emphasizes learning Korean as quickly as possible while also having fun in the process. The main features of Rocket Korean include:

  • 32 25 minute audio lessons with fun native Korean hosts
  • 28 Language and culture lessons
  • Writing lessons
  • Download all the lessons and listen to them anywhere on any device
  • Track your progress through their website
  • An online forum where you can get help from Korean teachers, native speakers and other students just like you
  • An article database featuring advanced learning techniques and tips and tricks
  • And much more!

For me, one of the things that sets this course apart from others I have seen is the online community with lots of options for help and support – it can really help if you don’t have to go about learning Korean by yourself. It is also a good solid course that will teach you everything you need to know to have meaningful conversations with people in Korean.

There is a 60 day money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

Start Learning Korean with Rocket Korean


The History of Hangul

Hangul, the Korean alphabet was a project promoted by Sejong the Great, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty.

During his reign he set up a group of specially selected scholars called the Hall of Worthies.  They were involved with publishing a lot of scholarly and scientific writings and because of their contribution to Korean culture this time period is widely regarded as the golden age of Korean history.

The most well-known accomplishment of the Hall of Worthies was the Hunmin Jeongeum.  Translated as “the correct/proper sounds for the instruction of the people”, this document described the brand new Korean alphabet that later became known as Hangul.

The Hunmin Jeongeum was published on October 9, 1446 and that day is celebrated as Hangul Day in South Korea.

Another document called the Hunmin Jeong-eum Haerye (translated as the Hunmin Jeong-eum Explanation and Examples) explains how the consonants were designed after the shapes the mouth makes when saying the letters while the vowels were designed after the principles of yin and yang.

King Sejong decided that the Korean people needed a new alphabet because the Korean language was fundamentally different from Chinese.

Until this point all Korean was written in Chinese characters known as Hanja which were very difficult for common people to read and write.  In fact, before the invention of Hangul the majority of Koreans were illiterate.

Hangul was designed so that even commoners would be able to read and right and as you might imagine this caused problems for the literary elite.  Many scholars and aristocrats believed that Hanja was the only legitimate writing system and saw Hangul as a threat to their status.

Because Hangul was so easy to learn and easy to use to spread information the tenth king Yeonsangun banned the study and use of Hangul and banned all documents written in Hangul.  Hangul later saw a revival in the last 16th century however.

In the 19th century there was increased Korean nationalism which led to an increase in the use of Hangul.

Western missionaries also promoted Hangul in schools and in 1894 Hangul was adopted for official documents.

In 1895 elementary schools started using Hangul in their textbooks and in 1896 the first newspaper was printed in both Hangul and English.

During the Colonial Rule in 1910 the official language of Korea became Japanese.  However, Hangul was still taught in Korean schools and once public schooling became mandatory for children the majority of Korea started learning Hangul.

The characters were somewhat standardized in 1912 with a few changes being made in 1930.

A man named Ju Sigyeong came up with the term Hangul which means “Great Script” in 1912.

In 1938 the Korean language was banned in schools as part of a policy of cultural assimilation.  Later, in 1941 all publications written in the Korean language were outlawed.

After Korea’s independence from colonial rule in 1946 Hangul was brought back and North Korea even tried to add a few new letters.

In 1949 North Korea made Hangul it’s official writing system and banned the use of Hanja completely.

In South Korea Hangul remains the official writing system however in some cases Hanja characters are still used.