Language of the Week: Korean

안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) hello!

As you may have guessed, the language of this week is Korean!

Korean is the official language of both the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) which is a total of approximately 73 million people. Korean is written in a script is called Hangeul and it is said that the basics of Hangeul can be learned in just a few hours.

In the Korean alphabet, there are consonants:

And then there are double consonants:

There are vowels:

And then there are Complex vowels:

Characters are written from up to down or from left to right and always start with a consonant.

If you want to write only the vowel, it must be written with the consonant o.

Original vowel Written by itself ㅏ 아 ㅐ 애 ㅓ 어 ㅔ 에 ㅗ 오 ㅜ 우 ㅡ 으 ㅣ 이

When writing in Korean, characters are written to fill an imaginary box and letters can be stretched or compressed to fill in the space of the box and to make it evenly sized with the other syllables. For example, you can see below how the size and shape of the letter ㄱ changes to fill in this imaginary box.

Like always, here are some simple phrases for you to try out:

Korean Pronunciation English 어떻게 지내세요? eotteohke jinaeseyo? How are you? 만나서 반가워요 Mannaseo bangawoyo Pleased to meet you 제 이름은 … 입니다 je ireum-eun … imnida My name is… 감사합니다 kamsahamnida Thank you 미안합니다! mianhamnida Sorry 실례하겠습니다! shillehagessumnida Excuse me 모르겠습니다 moreugesseumnida I don’t understand

In Korea, there are some rules of etiquette; make sure to bow to new acquaintances and elders, hugging and kissing is generally out of the question and there is an “honorifics” system which dictates different verb endings and vocabulary to use depending on your relationship with the person. In North Korea, there is a specific verb ending for addressing their leader, Kim Jong-il. What this means is that you have to add 옵 [-op-] at the end whenever you are addressing him.

That’s all for today, 안녕!(annyeong) bye!

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Originally published at on March 26, 2015.

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