Mastering a second language: The Korean Alphabet

This blog post is brought to you by Biblio Lotus team member Megan, Kirk-Bear Canyon Library. It is the second in a series from the team. Be on the lookout for a future post about learning Japanese!


한글 (hangul), the Korean alphabet, is the only widely used alphabet in the world that was made on demand! In the 15th century, King Sejong the Great asked his scholars to develop an alphabet that would make it easy for commoners to read and write. Before this, only Chinese characters were used, which requires a lot of memorization. There are thousands of 한자, 漢字 (hanja) (Chinese-based logogram characters), but only 24 characters in the modern phonetic 한글( hangul) alphabet. The consonants are based on the shape your mouth takes when saying them, and the vowels are made up of three shapes in different arrangements- ㆍ, ㅡ, ㅣ. Super easy!

If you are looking for more info about King Sejong and his marvelous alphabet, check out this book: King Sejong Invents an Alphabet

In fact, you can learn to read and write the entire 한글 (hangul) alphabet in a week with a bit of practice! Talk to Me in Korean is a great resource for mastering Korean from square one. There are also many fun, free apps available on the Apple and Google Play stores if you are looking for interactive lessons.

Once you’ve mastered 한글 (hangul), you can pronounce any Korean word! Unlike English, there are no hard c’s or soft a’s. Once you have learned the rules for how 한글 (hangul) is pronounced, there are no big surprises.

Do you want to try using 한글 (hangul) to read these loan words from English? Try pronouncing these words with the help of this hangul chart!

  1. 바나나
  2. 햄버거
  3. 커피


  1. banana 2. hamburger 3. coffee
The Library has plenty of resources to help you learn Korean!

My First Book of Korean Words

Reading and Writing Korean

Korean Hangeul for Beginners: Say it Like a Korean

Learning Korean

Learn Korean

Korean Folktales for Language Learners

Learning Korean with the Little Prince

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