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.

Learning Chinese with help of Iphone/iPod Touch


A quick post about learning Chinese Mandarin with help of my iPod Touch, because I think it’s a remarkable useful device for learning phrases and – in the case of Chinese – also for learning to write characters using the touch screen. All and all, very efficient for those idle moments of the day to study a new language. I agree it would not help one to pronounce Chinese right, but I consider it a first steps to learn some basics before commencing lessons in August.


*Please note my beautifully written “di” in the picture, just to show of in the screenshot. : )
iChinese uses the iPhone’s touch-based interface to teach users how to write the characters on-screen. At first I realized that the amount of study material seemed to be limited, with four libraries of words available. But the first two packages of ideograms have kept me busy for a month already. The application has a useful dictionary too, which is very useful to support you in explaining yourself on the streets of China. Costs: 7,99 Euro (excluding text to output.)


I believe that Before You Know it for Iphone (BYKI) is one of the best apps out there to learn Chinese. Using an intelligent flash card system, one can quickly learn (selected) phrases and words. Intelligent because your faulty answers are being represented from time to time until you don’t make them again, leaving the ones you know behind until you almost finish memorizing a complete package. Each chapter starts with reviewing the words/phrases, followed by learning to memorize the Chinese phrase to English. Then the hard part: Hearing English and memorizing the Chinese phrase correctly. Think this software is definitely worth the money, the app stopped working temporary when I upgraded to OS 3.0, and I found out that their customer service (Twitter/Email) is quite responsive and helpful.


Besides previous apps, I like to listen to the Chinesepod Podcast. While some don’t like it that much, I like to listen to it to hear about Chinese culture, and get some introduction to simple phrases. I find it hard to memorize what they are talking about, as I prefer the earlier discussed BFYI app much better, but it’s a nice human addition.


Any fundamental language tools that I am missing?

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