Korean Institute pushing Hangeul alphabet across Asian tribes


I came across an interesting article on the website of the Korean Embassy in the Netherlands. Apparently, a tribe based in Bauer Indonesia has chosen to use Hangeul (Korean writing) as its official writing system.

The 60.000 people of the tribe, were about to lose their native language due to the lack of a writing system, are learning to write Hangeul to express themselves. In a press event funded and initiated by the Korean National Language Institute, expressed by Korean media as “The globalization of the Korean Alphabet system“.

Apparently, the Hunminjeongeum Research Institute is pushing their agenda to introduce Korean alphabet across Asian tribes that have no writing system yet. Before selecting the Hangeul system, the tribe officials got an expenses-paid trip to Seoul.

This raises a number of questions for me. Is it a good thing that Koreans are pushing their writings across Asia? Is it really that bad if a tribe loses it’s native language (and isolation) within a country? Why teach them Korean writing system and not the International Phonetic Alphabet instead?

Besides political agenda and the questions I just raised, there might be a good thing to this choice as well. As some may argue that Korean is one of the easiest alphabets to learn, the language is often praised by linguists as the most efficient alphabet ever invented. I agree to that since I learned to read the alphabet myself in just two days. Compared to other Asian alphabets, Korean is a phonetic system of symbols that show specific sounds, unlike Chinese or Japanese. The Japanese have a combination of Chinese characters (kanji) and phonetic symbols. The advantage of Korean above Roman alphabet is that a Korean characters are combinations of components representing different sounds. English letters are not good for phonetics.

The Korean language is quite accurate when is comes to phonetics. However, there are some syllabols and sounds that can’t be captured by hangeul. (ex: ‘f,’ ‘th’ and ‘Z’)

On the up side, while I presume that the tribe’s Hangeul writing will rather isolate then aggegrate their development of the language in Indonesia, they special souls will likely be big stars when they head out to Korea. Korean TV would probably be able to make a hilarious show about the tribe. Interestingly enough, the official website is still in Indonesian.

Learn to read and pronounce Korean Hangul in 2 days


You don’t need a black belt in Taekwondo to master the Korean language, actually… reading Hangul (Korean writing) is surprisingly easy!

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.

Korean Language

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]

Writing Korean

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.

Correct Pronunciation

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.

I added the contents in text here as well:

가 나 다 라 마 바 사 아 자 차 카 타 파 하
갸 냐 랴 먀 샤 야 쟈 캬
거 너 더 러 머 버 서 어 저 처 커 터 퍼 허
겨 녀 뎌 려 며 벼 셔 여 져 쳐 켜 텨 펴 혀
고 노 도 로 모 보 소 오 조 초 코 토 포 호
교 뇨 료 묘 뵤 쇼 요 죠 쵸 쿄 표 효
구 누 두 루 무 부 수 우주추 쿠 투 푸 후
규 뉴 듀 류 뮤 뷰 슈 유 쥬 츄 큐 튜 퓨 휴

그 느 드 르 므 브 스 으 즈 츠 크 트 프 흐
기 니 디 리 미 비 시 이 지 치 키 티 피 히
개 내 대 래 매 배 새 애 재 채 캐 태 패 해
걔 섀 얘 쟤
게 네 데 레 메 베 세 에 제 체 케 테 페 헤
계 례 셰 예 폐 혜

과 놔 봐 솨 와 좌 콰 화
괘 놰 돼 쇄 왜 쾌 홰
괴 뇌 되 뢰 뫼 뵈 쇠 외 죄 최 퇴 푀 회
궈 눠 둬 뤄 뭐 숴 워 줘 춰 쿼 훠

궈 눠 둬 뤄 뭐 숴 숴 워 줘 춰 쿼 훠
궤 쉐 췌 퉤 훼
귀 뉘 뒤 뷔 쉬 위 쥐 취 퀴 튀 휘
늬 의 틔 희
까 깨 꼬 꼭 꽃 꾸 꿈 꿈 끝 끼
따 땅 때 또 뚜 뚝 뜨 띠
빠 빼 뻐 뽀 뿌 쁘 삐
싸 쌍 쌔 쏘 쑥 씨
짜 째 쪼 찌