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Hangul or Hangeul (Korean: 한글) is the alphabet used with the Korean language and Cia-Cia language.[1]

It was invented by Sejong the Great, the 4th King of the Joseon Dynasty in 1443 and it is still used widely. When Hangeul was spread out, King Sejong published Hunminjeongeum Haeryebon(훈민정음 해례본) which was chosen as the Memory of the World by UNESCO in 1997. In this book, the principle of the invention of Hangeul and information on its usage were recorded in detail.

The book Hunminjeongeum Haeryebon states the 2 principles of Hangeul. The first one is that the consonants of Hangeul are patterned on vocal organs. The second one is that the vowels of Hangeul are based on Cheonjiin(천지인). Cheonjiin refers to the three elements of philosophy which are heaven(천), earth(지) and human(인). Due to this invention principle, Hangeul gained the international reputation of its scientific method.


Vowels are letters like A, E, O and so on

There are 21 letters for vowels in Hangul.

  • 10 simple ones, ㅏㅓㅣㅑㅕ and ㅗㅜㅡㅛㅠ.
  • 11 more complicated combinations: ㅐㅒㅔㅖ and ㅘㅙㅚㅝㅞㅟㅢ.


a eo i ya yeo o u eu yo yu ae yae e ye wa wae oe weo we wi ui

Those with two small lines are pronounced with an extra "y" first.


Consonants are letters like B, G, L, M, N, S and so on.
There are 14 simple consonants: ㄱㄴㄷㄹㅁㅂㅅㅇㅈㅊㅋㅌㅍㅎ
They can be written two next to each other. Meaning:

g n d r/l m b s ng* j ch(ts) k t p h  

*Note: ㅇ is silent if it comes first in a syllable.


The consonants and vowels are combined into blocks of syllables. A syllable means one vowel and a few consonants, like "han" and "gul".

The blocks look like these examples: 서울 한글 평양


Seoul 서울   Hangul 한글   Pyongyang 평양
s eo - u l h a n g eu l p yeo ng ya ng


  1. "Tale of Hong Gildong". World Digital Library. Retrieved 3 May 2013.