The Korean Alphabet


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The Korean Alphabet
Korean hangul, or the Korean alphabet, is not all that different from our Roman alphabet, at least as far as sounds go. What's important for us to know is how to read it, because that is much different than the traditional "left-to-right" Roman system.

A Korean character is read from left to right, then top-to-bottom. For example: ㄱ makes a "k" sound, ㅏ makes an "a" sound, and ㅂ makes a "b" sound. So, the character that sounds like "ka" looks like this: 가. The character that sounds like "kab" looks like this: 갑. Left-to-right is done first, top to bottom is done second.

It is very important to realize that it is nearly impossible to learn proper pronunciation from reading a paper. Consult the Legacy CD-ROM or the ITF website for audio clips of pattern names to help you understand how to pronounce some of the vowels and consonants.

Consonants

Vowels

ㅂ: b/p (combined sound bp) ㅈ: j (Juche) ㄷ: d/t (D/To-San) ㄱ: g/k (G/Kwang-G/Kae) ㅅ: s (Saju-Jirugi) ㅁ: m (Moon-Moo) ㄴ: n (Chon-Ji)* ㅇ: ng (Choong-Moo)** ㄹ: l/r (Hwa-L/Rang) ㅋ: k (Ko-Dang) ㅊ: ch (Chon-Ji) ㅍ: p (Po-Eun) ㅎ: h (Hwa-Rang)

ㅗ: o (Po-Eun) ㅓ: aw (Da-Sut (5)) ㅣ: ee (Saju-Jirugi) ㅜ: uu (Choong-Moo) ㅡ: elll (hard to pronounce): (Po-Eun) ㅏ: a (Hwa-Rang) ㅕ: yaw (Yo-Sut) ㅑ: ya ㅐ: eeh (similar to next one) ㅔ eh (Set) ㅠ yoo: (Yoo-Sin) ㅟ wee (Eui-Am) ㅝ: wah ㅛ: yo (Won-Hyo)

ㅘ: waa (Hwa-Rang) ㅙ: weh ㅚ: oii (Toi-Gye) ㅖ: yay (Toi-Gye)
*Notice how this character looks like an "L." In Korean, the name for the L-stance is "Niunja Sogi." "Niun" is the name of this Korean character. Therefore, "L-stance" has the same sort of meaning – a reference to the alphabet. **Not pronounced at the beginning of a character – all characters must begin with a consonant, this sometimes is a placeholder.

Patterns using Korean Characters (practice pronunciation!)

Chon-Ji 천지

Yon-Gae: 연개

Dan-Gun 단군

Ul-Ji: 을지

Do-San: 도산

Moon-Moo: 문무

Won-Hyo 원효

So-San: 서산

Yul-Gok: 욜곡

Se-Jong: 세종

Joong-Gun: 중근

Tong-Il 통일

Toi-Gye: 퇴계

Hwa-Rang: 화랑

Choong-Moo: 충무

Kwang-Gae: 광개

Po-Eun: 포은

Ge-Beak: 계백

Eui-Am: 의암

Choong-Jang: 충장

Juche: 주체

Ko-Dang: 고당

Sam-Il: 삼일

Yoo-Sin: 유신

Choi-Yong: 최영

Mr. Phil Cerami, Mark Cashatts Taekwon-Do

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The Korean Alphabet