Translating HanJa and HanGul

Proficiency in HanGul is not required for researching Korean Genealogy, although it is very helpful.  At a minimum, you should understand that Korean HanGul letters can be put together into syllables, and syllables/characters can be put together into words.  If a word has HanJa roots, then each syllable could be represented in HanGul or HanJa.  If the word does not have HanJa roots, then it can only be written in HanGul.

The first step in translating Korean genealogical records is translating the HanJa characters into HanGul syllables to determine the pronunciation.  The next step is looking up the meanings of syllables and words (generally one, two, or three syllables per word).  Even if you don’t know where to break up words in a long string of HanJa that was written without spaces between words, you can get valuable insight into the overall meaning by looking up the meaning of each syllable.

The following websites are useful when converting between HanJa and HanGul.

The following websites are useful when looking up the English meaning of HanGul words or HanJa syllables:

Sometimes it can be useful to simply use a common search engine to find sample usages and translations of HanJa.  This is particularly useful when a HanJa character, word, or phrase is found on Korean genealogy related sites.  It is usually best to enter the HanJa into a Korean version of a search engine site to avoid being overwhelmed with Chinese rather than Korean results:

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