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Playing with Hangeul

Do you use emoticons? Emoticons use letters to express emotion. We could call it playing with the shapes of letters. For example, the English letter D is used to express a smile in the emoticon ‘:D.’ In addition to emoticons, there are various ways to play with letters in all countries, and Hangeul is no exception. In particular, Hangeul can be applied in diverse ways because the character shapes are simple and proportioned evenly from left to right.

Let’s look at Hangeul emoticons as an example. In ‘ㅎㅂㅎ’ the consonant ‘ㅎ’ represents eyes and the ‘ㅂ’ is a smiling mouth. What about ‘ㅠㅅㅠ’? The vowel ‘ㅠ’ repreents crying eyes and the consonant ‘ㅅ’ is a frowning face, so ‘ㅠㅅㅠ’ is a crying face.

Hangeul letters can also be flipped or turned to create different letters. For example the word ‘곰’ (bear) can be turned upside down to spell the word ‘문’ (door). The letters ‘롬곡’ which don’t mean anything can be flipped upside down to create the word ‘눈물’ (tears).

Wait here! Quiz! Guess what the following emoticons are used well by Koreans! 1) ^^ 2) ^^;; 3) ^.~

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This article is from the free online course:

The Korean Alphabet: An Introduction to Hangeul

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)