This tutorial is for anyone that has considered learning Korean, but has had no idea where and how to start. Here, I will teach you the first 5 minutes of Hangeul (한글/Korean).

Part 1: Hangeul Block Shapes

안녕하세요!

If you’ve never studied Korean before, you probably have no idea what that line above says. Those lines and circles are, in fact, letters! However, Korean letters aren’t written one-by-one in a row, like English. They’re written in blocks, like lego!

There are 4 basic Hangeul block shapes. Each have a minimum of 1 consonant and 1 vowel.

C = Consonant; V= Vowel

  Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 4
Block Shape 1 2 3 4
Example 아 

Every block must start with a consonant and have a vowel. However, Type 2 and Type 4 block shapes end with a consonant.

By the way, you’ve probably noticed the word “Hangeul” used a few times by now. “Hangeul” is the Korean word for the Korean alphabet!

Part 2: The First 6 Letters

Now that we know how to put Hangeul letters into blocks, let’s memorize a few letters. The chart below applies some visual mnemonics (tools to help you memorize) to help you remember each letter shape.

(sounds like “g”)

(sounds like “n”)

(sounds like “m”)

greeting
(g)reeting

Doesn’t it look like a person bowing to greet you?

north

(n)orth

An arrow pointing north with its tail to the right

mat

(m)at

A rectangular mat

(sounds like “s”)

(has no sound)

(sounds like “h”)

slip

(s)lip

Don’t slip on that banana peel!

empty

(empty)

An empty glass

hat

(h)at

Doesn’t it look like a hat on a head?

 

Part 3: Hangeul Mini-Chart

Now that you’ve memorize the 6 most basic letters, you need to learn some vowels to make Hangeul blocks. The left column introduces two vowels, “ㅏ” (pronounced like “ah”) and her older sister  “ㅑ” (pronounced like “ya”). You’ll also notice a another familiar letter in the bottom row. “ㅇ” is a special letter that has becomes “ng” (pronounced like the “ng” in bring) when it is the final consonant in a block. If all this sounds confusing, now worries, sometimes it’s best to just start practicing! Fill out the empty boxes below by combining the letters at the top with the letters on the left.

 
(g)

(n)

(m)

(s)

(silent)

(h)
ㅏ (a)
(ga)
   
(sa)
   
ㅑ (ya)  
(nya)
     
(ha)
ㅏ + ㅇ (a + ng)    
(mang)
 
(ang)
 

 

Part 4: Writing Hangeul

Now you have all the knowledge necessary to write Hangeul! Let’s give it a shot. How do you write the following in Hangeul?

a ya gag hang gangnam
 

 

       

You did it! You learned how to write Hangeul in 5 minutes!

Part 5: The Next Step

But, of course. There’s much more to Hangeul than a couple of rules and eight letters. Hangeul has 24 basic letters, some unique letter combinations and some pronunciation rules (certain letter and block combinations produce different pronunciations). Luckily, Hangeul is a very phonetic language, so once you’ve memorize the rules and letters, you’ll be able to read any text!

If you’re fired up and ready to take your Hangeul studies to the next level, I highly recommend you check out talktomeinkorean.com. It is a free website that provides hundreds of audio lessons, video lessons, quizzes, grammar lessons and a very active community of users.