We write English by stringing individual letters together. But when using the Korean writing system Hangeul, we have to think in terms of syllables. A simple example is the word ‘Canada’ – Ca-na-da. In Korean this becomes
캐나다. Every Korean syllable occupies the same amount of space, no matter how many characters are in the syllable, and are written to fit into a square box. Like English, Hangeul is comprised of consonants and vowels.
Camera Ca-me-ra 카 메 라 ka me Ra
Peter Pe-ter 피 터 pi teo
Mary Ma-ry 메 리 me ri
Banana Ba-na-na 바 나 나 ba na na
Radio Ra-di-o 라 디 오 ra di o
(1) ㄱ k/g (as in kid or game)
(2) ㄷ t/d (as in tiger or dog)
(3) ㅂ p/b (as in pig or bed)
(4) ㅈ ch/j (as in charming or jungle)
(5) ㅅ s (as in speech)
(6) ㅁ m (as in mother)
(7) ㄴ n (as in noise)
(8) ㄹ r/l (as in rain or lily)
(9) ㅎ h (as in high)
(10) ㅇ 1 ng (as in ring) This sound only applies when ㅇ is the final consonant of a syllable. When the same symbol is used at the start of a syllable it has no sound, and acts as a dummy consonant for syllables that begin with a vowel.
Note: According to the original Hunmin Jeongeum text:
ㄱ depicts the root of the tongue blocking the throat;
ㄴ depicts the outline of the tongue touching the upper palate;
ㅁ depicts the outline of the mouth;
ㅅ depicts the outline of the incisors (the teeth at the front);
ㅇ depicts the outline of the throat. The other symbols were derived by adding strokes to the basic ones.