HanGul Letters

The Korean people have a long history of valuing education. The Great King SaeJong recognized that HanJa was a barrier to literacy for many in the working class. They lacked the education, resources, and time required to memorize thousands of HanJa characters. He developed a simple form of writing called “HanGul” (Korean Writing) to solve this problem.

HanGul is simple, scientific, and phonetic. It is made up of 24 simple characters that represent sounds. They can be combined into compound letters to make up all 40 sounds used in the Korean language.

Sometimes it is useful for foreigners to attempt to write Korean words with English letters. This is called Romanization. There are several standard Romanization methods that can be used to represent Korean words in English. The standard adopted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism in the year 2000 is the Revised Romanization method. The sounds of the Korean language are not identical to the sounds of the English language, so no Romanization method will be perfect. This book does not strictly adhere to the standard methods in an attempt to write the English form of words that is most likely to result in a non-Korean speaker pronouncing the word correctly.

A serious study of the Korean language should start with memorization of the HanGul letters in Tables 1.3 – 1.4 and their correct pronunciations. However, genealogy can be interpreted without memorization by using these tables a reference.

Table 1.3:  HanGul Consonant Letters

HanGul Letter

English
Transliteration

Consonant
Type

Pronunciation
Guide

g, k

Single

g, k

gg

Double

stronger g than

n

Single

n

d, t

Single

d, t

dd

Double

stronger d than

r, l

Single

r, l

m

Single

m

b, p

Single

b, p

bb

Double

stronger b than

s, sh

Single

s, sh

ss

Double

stronger s than

(silent), ng

Single

(silent) , ng

j

Single

j

jj

Double

stronger j than

ch

Single

ch

k

Single

stronger k than

t

Single

stronger t than

p

Single

stronger p than

h

Single

h

 

Table 1.4: HanGul Vowel Letters

HanGul Letter

English
Transliteration

Vowel
Type

Pronunciation
Guide

a

Simple

a in father

ae

Compound

e in beg

ya

Simple

ya in yarn

yae

Compound

ye in yes

eo

Simple

u in luck

ae

Compound

e in neck

yeo

Simple

you in young

yae

Compound

ye in yes

o

Simple

o in go

wa

Compound

wa in wand

wae

Compound

whe in when

oy

Compound

oy in oyster

yo

Simple

yo in yo-yo

u

Simple

u in tune

weo

Compound

wha in what

wae

Compound

wea in weapon

wi

Compound

we in we

yu

Simple

you in you

eu

Simple

e in the

ui

Compound

eo in people

i

Simple

e in be

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