Can you read that? If you can – awesome! If you can’t, that’s because you don’t know how to read Hangul (한글).
But what is Hangul?
Simple to learn!
It’s the Korean writing system. The alphabet, if you will. And the main reason it was created is to make learning it simple and easy. And believe me, it is. Of course, being able to read in the same speed as a native Korean is something that’ll take you many, many years to achieve but learning Hangul (i.e. connecting the symbols on paper or on screen to sounds) is extremely easy. Especially if you compare it to Japanese for example, which uses THREE writing systems.
Don’t rely on romanization!
Unlike the romanization of the Japanese language, romanized Korean is often not a very good representation of how the words are pronounced. But if you can read hangul, you’ll know exactly how the words are pronounced since there are relatively few exceptions! Furthermore, reading in your native alphabet might cause you to pronounce the individual letters the same way as you do in English, or whatever your native language is. For example ‘a’ in English is not pronounced the same way as the Korean version of ‘a’. If you read it in hangul, it’ll be pretty clear how it’s pronounced but if you read it in English, your brain might trick you.
Some letters, like ㅕand ㅠ sound very different, but they are sometimes romanized the same way. How would you be able to tell the difference? You wouldn’t! Do you know who Kim Yuna is? How do you think her name is pronounced? You can’t know just from reading the romanized version of her name. If you can read hangul, and you know that her name is 김연아, you can read the name exactly how it’s meant to be pronounced.
No Chinese characters (well, almost)!
Before Hangul, there were only the Chinese characters. Not so easy to learn huh? But guess what, that’s why Hangul was created! Now you don’t even need to learn the Chinese characters, as they are as good as extinct in the Korean language. With that said, you’ll still stumble upon one every now and then when reading the newspaper, or you might spot a sign here and there with a symbol you’re not quite sure if you’ve seen before. But they are rare and you don’t need to know them.
So really, that are no excuses not to learn Hangul. And the sooner you start, the better!
The 9th of October is the official Hangul day in South Korea. It’s a national holiday! Surprised? Well, don’t be. Koreans regards Hangul as a valuable cultural heritage!
By Kimchi Cloud
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