Korean Hangul - Introduction

Modern Korean uses hangul in its writing system.

Each hangul is written in a square box. It consists of an initial consonant, a vowel and an optional final consonant.

These consonants and vowels are called jamo. A jamo by itself does not have any meaning, just like any Latin alphabets carry no meanings.

To begin your Korean language learning career, memorize all hangul with initial consonants combined with simple vowel ㅏ /a/.

A hangul with no initial consonant is always represented by ㅇ.

Next, learn all simple vowels, complex bright vowels and complex dark vowels.

Notice that simple bright vowels and simple dark vowels cannot be combined together to form complex vowels.

The following 3 groups of vowels, with different spellings, have the same pronunciations by most of the native speakers in modern Korean:

For the 27 final consonants, many of them use the same jamo as beginning consonants, but there are only 7 possible pronunciations: k, n, m, p, l, t and ng.

Use the following to determine the pronunciation of final consonants combined by 2 jamos: k > n > m > p > l > t > ng, with the only exception that ㄼ can be pronounced as either p or l.

This pronunciation rule for the initial and final consonants applies primarily to a single hangul. Like English, the final consonant in a hangul will affect the pronunciation of the initial consonant of the next hangul.

In a nutshell, a hangul is composed of a few jamos, and a Korean word can be as simple as one hangul.

Hangul Jamo Table

Initial Consonants
g / k
d / t
r / l
b / p
- / h
j / ch
Simple Vowels
Complex Bright Vowels
Complex Dark Vowels
Final Consonants
l *