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Hunmin jeong-eum
A page from the Hunmin Jeong-eum Eonhae. The Hangul-only column, third from the left (나랏말ᄊᆞ미), has pitch-accent diacritics to the left of the syllable blocks.

Hangul or Hangeul (Korean: 한글) is the alphabet used for the Korean language and Cia-Cia language.

It was made by Sejong the Great, the 4th King of the Joseon Dynasty in 1443, and it is still used by many people. When Hangeul was spread out, King Sejong published Hunminjeong'eum Haeryebon (훈민정음 해례본) which was chosen as the Memory of the World by UNESCO in 1997. In this book, the design ideas of Hangeul and information on its usage were written down in detail.

The book Hunminjeong'eum Haeryebon states the 2 design ideas of Hangeul. The first one is that the consonants of Hangeul look like vocal organs. The second one is that the vowels of Hangeul are based on Cheonji'in (천지인). Cheonji'in refers to the three elements of philosophy which are sky (천), earth (지) and human (인). Because of these ideas, Hangeul is well-known for being easy to learn.

Although it was only used by the lower classes at first, Hangeul became the official writing script of Korea in the late 19th century. Today it is the most used writing system of both North and South Korea. North Korea abolished the use of Hanja, and today North Koreans write only in Hangeul. In South Korea, people write mostly in Hangeul, although in some contexts Hanja is still used.


Vowels are letters like A, E, O and so on

There are 21 letters for vowels in Hangul.

  • 10 simple ones, ㅏㅓㅣㅑㅕ and ㅗㅜㅡㅛㅠ.
  • 11 more complicated combinations: ㅐㅒㅔㅖ and ㅘㅙㅚㅝㅞㅟㅢ.


a eo i ya yeo o u eu yo yu ae yae e ye wa wae oe wo we wi ui

Those with two small lines are pronounced with an extra "y" first.


Consonants are letters like B, G, L, M, N, S and so on.
There are 14 simple consonants: ㄱㄴㄷㄹㅁㅂㅅㅇㅈㅊㅋㅌㅍㅎ
They can be written two next to each other. Meaning:

letter sound
g k
d t
r l
b p
s t
- ng
j t
ch t
h t
kk k
tt t
pp p
ss t
jj t


The consonants and vowels are combined into blocks of syllables. A syllable means one vowel and a few consonants, like "han" and "gul".

The blocks look like these examples: 서울 한글 평양


Seoul 서울   Hangul 한글   Pyongyang 평양
s eo - u l h a n g eu l p yeo ng - ya ng

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Hangul para niños

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