That’s the main point I am trying to make in this post. While the Korean characters seem complex at first, they are easy to read within one week. Skip the touristic English metro maps, and start learning the way the correct way!
Truth is that this information applies for a specific group, but I stumbled upon a few useful things to master the Language quickly.
There are about 80 million Korean speakers, with large groups in Korea, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan. There are more people that can speak Korean then there are people that speak French or Italian.
Korean language was previously written using Hanja, which ‘borrowed’ Chinese characters, but pronounced them in a Korean way. In the 15th century, the national writing system called Hangul (meaning Korean) was developed.
Master the alphabet in less then a day
I’m not going to write down how to learn the alphbet. There are many guides out there that done the same. I would suggest to do only one exercise: try to master this Flash game made by Aeriagloris. The game shows a letter, and suggests 3 to 5 answers to that question. It is good because the game allows showing either Korean or English writing of the symbol. Much better then flash cards! Master the 24 Hangul letters in less then a day. [edit: here is an alternative]
Hangul alphabet is applied into syllabic blocks. Each blocks contains at least two of the Korean letters. Hangul may be written either vertically or horizontally. The traditional direction is the Chinese style of writing top to bottom, right to left.
My friend Byeoung Cho (designer) created a colorful Korean hangul practice sheets, which proved useful when I mastered my intonations. I decided to share his work for others that want to learn as well! Note: The grey characters indicate low usage. You’re invited to leave a “thank you” in the comments when you use them!
The pictures are A4 sized, click on them for full view.