Korean Writing System

Writing system

Formerly the languages of the Korean peninsula were written using hanja, using hyangchal or idu. Such systems relied on principles of rebus, and were lost, later in history. Writing became confined to the ruling elite, who used hanja to write in Classical Chinese.

Korean is now mainly written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet promulgated in 1446 by Sejong the Great. While South Korean schools still teach 1,800 hanja characters, North Korea abolished the use of hanja decades ago.

Below is a chart of the Korean alphabet’s symbols and their canonical IPA values:

RR b d j g pp tt jj kk p t ch k s h ss m n ng r,l
IPA p t t͡ɕ k t͡ɕ͈ t͡ɕʰ s h m n ŋ w r j
RR i e oe ae a o u eo eu ui ye yae ya yo yu yeo wi we wae wa wo
IPA i e ø ɛ a o u /ə/ or /ɔ/ ɯ ɰi je ja jo ju /jə/ or /jɔ/ wi we wa /wə/ or /wɔ/

Modern Korean is written with spaces between words, a feature not found in Chinese or Japanese. Korean punctuation marks are almost identical to Western ones. Traditionally, Korean was written in columns from top to bottom, right to left, but is now usually written in rows from left to right, top to bottom.

Credit: Wikipedia Org.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_language


겉과 속이 같은 사람이 되고 싶어서

겉과 속이 같은 사람이 되고 싶어서

아름다운 마음의 소유자가 되고 싶어서

아름다운 미덕을 베푸는 사람이 되고 싶어서

지식과 지혜를 겸비한 사람이 되고 싶어서

외유내강한 사람이 되고 싶어서

성숙한 행동을 하는 사람이 되고 싶어서

미래의 세대들에게 영향을 미치는 사람이 되고 싶어서

내가 태어난 가족과 나라에 부끄럽지 않은 사람이 되고 싶어서

사랑을 받기 보다는 주기를 더 좋아하는 사람이 되고 싶어서

사람들에게서보다 인정을 받기 보다는 흘러가는 바람에게서도 부끄럽지 않게 사는 사람이 되고 싶어서

아는것도 많지만 겸손해서 삼라만상이 흐뭇해하는

오늘 죽어도 후회없는 삶은 사는 사람이 되고 싶어서

세상을 돌았습니다.

지식을 쌓았지요.

종교를 탐구했지요.

사람들을 관찰했지요.

기도를 했지요.

이제 집으로 돌아옵니다.

내 자신의 정원으로 돌아오는길은 낯이 설지만

한국인이라는 사실에 기가 살고, 흥이 나고, 정이 새록새록 납니다.

한국인의 자연유산과 문화, 지식, 지혜가 전세계의 누구에게도 못지 않아요.

하늘을 우러러 한점 부끄러움이 없고 자랑스럽습니다.


Bruce Lee’s Quote and the Korean Culture

“Absorb what is good from others, discard what is bad from others, and add what is your own.” -Bruce Lee-

While I was pondering on my revelation that I have to pay much more attention to my cultural heritage, I also realized that my effort to explore more on my cultural aspect will also lead me to a way of respecting those of others as well. With regard to valuing my own culture, it is even more apparent that I haven been over-protecting others’ cultures while I did not give proper weight on mine.

Traditionally, the culture of Korea has been shaped by many other cultures that are surrounded by the nation, but I believe that Korea did not lose its own authenticity of its cultural value.

When I remembered the Bruce Lee’s quote, that’s what came to my mind.

I strive to revive Korean philosophical principles. For example, I embrace the perspective of Taoism (Shamanism) and Tangun Hak, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianism, Chatholocism, and Judism, etc. However, I truly believe that Seongli Hak, which was developed by Korean scholars through Seonli Hak a long time ago has profoundly meaningful potential to cleanse this ever-evolving, exciting, flat, yet questionable world in terms of moral values.



When I was young, I was fascinated by all the phonemical variances Koran words could make (onomatopoeia) to describe how it sounds like when a stream runs: jol-jol-jol, jool-jool-jool, jil-jil-jil, jwal, jwal, jwal, and kwal-kwal-kwal. It was not only phenomenally outstanding and interesting, but also the people’s observations and analyses of those words with so many different ways to make sounds incredibly resemble to the nature of things. For me, it means that they were cognizant and patient enough to those little details in sounds of the nature!

Thus, naturally, I adore and respect Hangul; it is the most philosophical and scientific language on earth. Like Science historian John Man (n.d.) said, “Hanguel is the best alphabet that all the languages have dreamed of.” 한글은 모든 언어가 꿈꾸는 최고의 알파벳이다. –

At the same time, I love the beauty of English as well. For example, the number of vocabulary in English dazzles me. The Oxford Dictionary definition is approximately 500, 000 words, but if we count all the words that has more than one meaning such as have or get, it is fair to say that there are more than a million words.

So, I want to continue to learn more about them both. And I have a job to interact with and honor them both; translation and interpretation. I think I do have a very good job in the world. For me, it is a perfect match between a play and work, so I do enjoy translation and interpretation.

This blog is my story of interacting with those words and meanings. As you know, however, language is so tied into our cultural heritage, so there will be website links, articles, people’s stories, multimedia links, and many more other things about cultural aspects in this website as well.