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Hangeul – Korea’s Official Alphabet

 

 

 

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Korean Consonants

Here are the 14 consonants of Korean.  These consonants are later coupled with a vowel to make a block shaped syllable. 

Before we get started, I'd like to tell you a little secret: Each consonant above contains a hint about how to pronounce it! When designing Hangeul, King Sejong took into consideration the shape of the mouth when making each sound.  Below is an explanation of this system, as well as information on how to write each letter.  It is much easier to memorize Hangeul if you practice writing the letters out for yourself.  Please make note that the stroke order is quite vital to ensuring legibility, so it is recommended that you learn the proper stroke order right from the beginning to foster good habits. Luckily for us, we can make all 14 consonants by simply adding strokes to 5 consonants in pink.  So let's start with those.  

 

The first consonant in the Korean alphabet is ㄱ and is said to have the qualities of a tree according to Ohaeng, the philosophy of the 5 elements. ㄱ makes a sound that is fairly close to the sound of hard G in English.  The shape of ㄱrepresents the shape your tongue makes when you pronounce it. See for yourself, try making a hard G sound and notice how your tongue draws upward and to the back, like in the drawing.

 

"ㄴ" comes next with a sound just like an "N" sound in English. When we sound out the letter "ㄴ" or "N" our tongue actually flattens down and backward while the tip goes upward.  As mentioned in the section on Ohaeng, "ㄴ" has the qualities of fire.

 

As for "ㅁ", try sounding out the sound "M".  Do you notice how your lips purse together? They make a shape that is almost the same as "ㅁ". "ㅁ" is said to have the qualities of water.

 

The next consonant is "ㅅ" which is an "S" sort of sound.  The "ㅅ" shape symbolizes the closed position of your teeth when you push the wind through them to make that "S" sound. "ㅅ" posesses the qualities of gold.

 

And the last of the 5 basic consonants is "ㅇ" which makes a "ng" sound (Or is silent if it is the first consonant).  The "ㅇ" represents the outline of the throat when that sound is made.  "ㅇ" has the qualities of earth.

 

 

   

 

 

You might notice some words have the same consonant stuck together two times. The sound is very similar to original pronunciation, but it is simply tensed, pronounced more strongly. These sounds also require some listening practice in order to recognize the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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