Did you notice that the Korean language is easier to learn than other languages, reducing the time to learn all the characters? Unlike Chinese with pinyin and complicated characters or Thai with thousands of syllables, why does Hangul seem so easy when you start to learn? If you discover how simple Hangul is to learn, and actually learn it, you will feel so adroit when enjoying Korean culture— K-Pop songs and K-dramas for instance. The simple steps of learning Hangul enable you to broaden your spectrum of cultural knowledge.
Hangul is designed to be a writing system that shows the various features of sounds: the sound is made using your lips and your throat against your teeth. King Sejong cooperated with highly renowned scholars to work, giving them the humble name of the Hall of Worthies. They developed the Korean Hangul, a featural alphabet. Every syllable gets separated out into its own block. The syllable’s consonants and vowels will be written side-by-side within that block. Each consonant and vowel letter inside that block will be shaped according to its features. The featural alphabet was so simple and straightforward that one of the king’s historians almost dared people to learn it: “If you’re smart, you can learn it in one morning. If you’re a fool, it’ll take you ten days.” Not everyone jumps on the Hangul easy train. Community-accessible writing bothers traditionalists, who skip out on the innovation and keep using Chinese characters fitted to Korean, Hanja or Han characters, even into the 1900s. However, for the rest, writing the language was deciphered as an easier task than ever.
Hangul or the Korean writing system would seem hard for European language speakers or native English speakers. Albeit the Korean alphabet is different from the English alphabet, those who are familiar with the Japanese and Chinese characters will interpret the Korean language easier than others. As Hangul only has 24 characters to learn, it reduces the time to completely learn the language. Also, Korean is not a tonal language and has a lot of English language such as taxi (택시), bus (버스), computer (컴퓨터), coffee shop (커피숍), and butter (버터).
Korean is designed for people who were unable to learn the language due to financial difficulties or identity limitations. That is why the language is intended to be more facile than any other language. Start with the Korean Alphabet Hangul in order to widen your Korean vocabulary. If you can recall the scene in “Reply 1988” where Sun-woo tries to teach her little sister to write her name in Hangul through tracing and imitating, it is a chance for you to apply the method to yourself. This scene proves that even Koreans start by learning the alphabet. As a language learner, you should learn the Korean alphabet first before anything else. After this step, you could start to try to watch K-dramas and K-pop with translations and subtitles which will enable you to get accustomed to the language itself. It would be a valuable experience for you to learn the appreciative language of Hangul.
Edited by Hayoung (Wendy) Lee
Yumin (Angela) Lee
Member of GaNaDa Society