Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Reading Hangeul

Let's learn how to read Hangeul.
Hello everyone. Last class we learned how to write language sounds in Hangeul. Do you remember that we also learned basic Korean greetings and how to write your name in Hangeul? Today we will learn how to read Hangeul. Hangeul characters are phonemic characters that represent sound. Therefore if you know which sounds the characters represent, you can read Hangeul. Let’s look at the sounds each Hangeul character represents. First let’s look at the sounds of Hangeul consonants. The consonant ‘ㅂ’ is written for the sounds [p] or [b]. The consonant ‘ㄷ’ is used for [t] or [d]. The letter ‘ㄱ'represents [k] or [g]. In Korean, the [p] and [ b], [t] and [d], [k] and [g] pronunciations are not differentiated.
This is because Korean does not differentiate between voiced and voiceless sounds, so the written system does not either. ‘ㅅ’ is used for [s] pronunciation and ‘ㅈ'is used for [dz.] ‘ㅎ’ is used for the [h] pronunciation. ‘ㅅ. ㅎ‘ are used for fricatives and ‘ㅈ'is used for affricates which combine a plosive with a fricative. ‘ㅍ, ㅌ, ㅊ, ㅋ'는 represent the pronunciations of ‘ㅂ[p], ㄷ[t], ㄱ[k], ㅈ[dz]‘ when combined with the [h] sound. There is more air released and more friction in these pronunciations. Repeat after me [ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅈ, ㄱ] / [ㅍ, ㅌ, ㅊ, ㅋ]. Well done. Did you feel how the second set was more strong and rough? These pronunciations are written with the characters ‘ㅍ, ㅌ, ㅊ, ㅋ‘.
The fact the ‘ㅍ, ㅌ, ㅊ, ㅋ'pronunciations are stronger than the ‘ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅈ, ㄱ'pronunciations show how scientific Hangeul is. Next are the letters ‘ㅃ, ㄸ, ㅆ, ㅉ, ㄲ’. These are pronounced by tensing the vocal cords more than for the pronunciations of ‘ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㄱ’. These letters are written to show the stronger pronunciations. Repeat after me. [ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㄱ] / [ㅃ, ㄸ, ㅆ, ㅉ, ㄲ] Did you feel how it is a little more difficult to pronounce the second set? These letters are called strong consonants (double consonants). You have to tense the vocal cords to pronounce them. However there is less air released from the mouth than when your pronounce ‘ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㄱ'.
Next is ‘ㅁ, ㄴ, ㅇ’. These three letters are nasal consonants which represent the [m], [n], [ŋ] sounds. Lastly ‘ㄹ'represents [r] and [ㅣ]. In Korean words the [r] and [l] for [ra] and [la] are not differentiated, so the same letter is used for both. Therefore ‘read’ and ‘lead’ are both written as ‘리드’ in Hangeul. Now let’s look at the pronunciation of Hangeul vowels? ‘ㅏ'is used to write [a] and ‘ㅓ'is used to write [ə]. ‘ㅗ'is used to write [o], ‘ㅡ'is used for [ɨ], and ‘ㅣ’ is used for [i] sounds. Next the ‘ㅔ'is used for [e], and ‘ㅐ'is used to write [ɛ]. These are all characters to write single vowels and they can be pronounced without changing the shape of the lips.
‘ㅟ’ and ‘ㅚ'were originally monophthongs used to write [ü] and [ø] but in modern Korean they represent the diphthongs [wi] and [we]. Unlike monophthongs, the characters ‘ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ‘ represent diphthongs, and there are 11 of them. ‘ㅑ’ is [ya], ‘ㅕ’ is [yə], ‘ㅛ ‘ is [yo], ‘ㅠ'is [yu], ‘ㅢ’ is [ɰi], ‘ㅖ'is [ye], ‘ㅒ'is [yɛ], ‘ㅘ'is [wa], ‘ㅙ'is [wɛ], ‘ㅝ'is [wə], and ‘ㅞ’ is [we]. Therefore in modern Korean vowels there are 8 monophthongs and 11 diphthongs. So far we have looked at the consonants and vowels in Hangeul. Now let’s read Hangeul. Because consonant and vowel characters each represent a sound, you can read Hangeul. Let’s read this first word slowly. ‘안-녕-하-세-요[an-nyeon-ha-se-yo]’.
We learned last class this means ‘hello.’ Let’s read the next sentence. ‘만나서 반갑습니다‘[man-na-sə-pan-gap- sɨm-ni-da, 만나서 반갑씀니다]. The final consonant ‘ㅂ’ is pronounced by stopping the air from your lungs with your lips. ‘갑[갑]’ like this. The sentence we just read was ‘nice to meet you.’ In this sentence, the ‘습'is pronounced [sɨpㄱ] when by itself. When it is followed by a pronunciation like ‘니’ it is pronounced [sɨm]. Let’s read the third sentence. ‘안-녕-히 계-세-요[an-nyeon-hi gye-se-yo]. This means ‘good bye’ in Korean. Repeat after me. [an-nyeon-hi gye-se-yo] Again. [annyeonhi gyeseyo ], [annyeonhi gyeseyo ] Let’s read the fourth sentence. ‘미-안-합-니-다[mi-an-hap-ni-da]. This means ‘I am sorry.’ Repeat after me. [mi-an-hap-ni-da ] Again. [mianhamnida], [mianhamnida] Let’s read the fifth sentence. ‘알-겠-습-니-다[al-getㄱ- sɨp-ni-da]’.
This means ‘okay.’ Repeat after me. ‘알-겠-습-니-다[al-getㄱ- sɨp-ni-da]’ Again. [algetㄱ-sɨmnida], [algetㄱ-sɨmnida] Let’s read the last sentence. ‘아-닙-니-다[a-nim-ni-da]’ ‘아닙니다’. This can mean ‘no’ or ‘you’re welcome.’ You have just read six phrases in Hangeul. Now you know how to read Hangeul. You also learned how to pronounce six phrases in Korean. This week we learned how to write our names in Hangeul, how to read and pronounce Hangeul. You also learned some basic Korean phrases. How has it been learning about Hangeul so far? Has this made you want to learn Korean? Do you also now want to visit Korea, the country where Hangeul is used? The next class will introduce some famous tourist sites in Korea related to Hangeul. This concludes today’s class.
See you next time.

Today we will learn how to read Hangeul.

If you know which sounds the characters represent, you can read Hangeul.

How has it been learning about Hangeul so far? Has this made you want to learn Korean?



만나서 반갑습니다.

안녕히 계세요.




ㅂ, ㄷ, ㅈ, ㄱ

ㅍ, ㅌ, ㅊ, ㅋ

ㅃ, ㄸ, ㅆ, ㅉ, ㄲ

ㅁ, ㄴ, ㅇ

ㅏ, ㅓ, ㅗ, ㅡ, ㅣ

ㅔ, ㅐ, ㅟ, ㅚ

ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ

ㅢ, ㅖ, ㅒ, ㅘ, ㅙ, ㅝ, ㅞ

This article is from the free online

The Korean Alphabet: An Introduction to Hangeul

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now