">Hangul (Korean Alphabet) Perfect Guide + Audio : Korean Jun
Hangul img

Hangul (Korean Alphabet)

Hangul is the Korean alphabet and blah blah blah. Yeah let’s skip all boring introductions. I’ll tell you only the important things that you must know, you must understand especially the differences between Hangul and Latin alphabet like a consonant can go below other letters or that you can combine 2 different vowels to make a new sound. Those things aren’t something you can find in most languages and that’s interesting and what you really have to know.


If you only memorize the letter without understanding how it works, You would write Korean in a very wrong way. You have to understand how it works, not only memorizing the alphabet. This tutorial will help you to build a brain for that and show you how native Koreans understand Hangul. I’ll teach you everything, from how to read them, to how to write them correctly. It’ll be your first achievement for Korean language and I’m already proud of you since you decided to start it.


* this tutorial has images and audios to help you understanding. Also, all consonants are pronounced with vowel a.

Learn Hangul in 15 Minutes?

I’m sorry for dragging but I have to tell you things more before I start it. Have you ever seen some tutorials that say you can learn Hangul in 15 minutes or 30 minutes? YES, You can do it! Or… can you?


Of course, It’s a lie. That’s just a clickbait or they don’t fully understand Hangul or they just don’t really teach you everything about Hangul OR they don’t want to demotivate you. I’ll tell you honestly, it will take you more than 15 mins. But after this tutorial (and the batchim tutorial), you won’t ever read Korean words in a wrong way. 100% accurate guarantee. You don’t need to spend more time to find other tutorials. Here is everything that you really need to learn.


Basic Hangul Consonant

Hangul has 19 consonants in total and we will start to learn Hangul with 9 consonants that Korean Jun considers as the most basic consonants. Why are they most basic?


Because they are the basis to build other Hangul letters by combining and transforming. For example, ㄱ is used to build ㅋ and ㄲ. Just like that. Next 9 consonants will help you to build more Hangul letters.


HangulRomanization + SoundAudio
(g in gun)
(n in need)
(d in door)
R / L
(l in love)
(m in moon)
(b in bear)


S / SH
(s in sad)


(j in job)
No consonant sound
(Such as a / i / u / e / o)


What you must remember is that each pronunciation of hangul is very different from romanization or any alphabet even though some Hangul and alphabet sound similar to each other. For example, ㅈ sounds more similar to ‘ch’, not ‘j’. Listen to the audio examples carefully to see the differences between Hangul and Latin alphabet.


What Is The No Consonant Sound?

You can’t write only vowels in Hangul so you have to use a default consonant which follows the next vowel sound. I’ll give you a better explanation very soon. So, keep reading!

Hangul ㄹ

ㄹ is one of the most confusing Korean pronunciations. When you use a translator to check it or you read some Hangul tutorials, you can mostly find that ㄹ is written as [R] or [L]. But… which one is it? Is it L or R?


HangulTongue PositionAudio
Pronunciation ㄹ


In fact, Korean ㄹ isn’t either L or R. It’s a completely different pronunciation from both. For the correct basic ㄹ pronunciation, touch the front ceiling of the mouth (not back of your upfront teeth, way behind than L) with your tongue and move it down while you make a sound. Check the image for the more correct tongue position.

Hangul Vowels

Hangul has a really interesting system for vowels. It has 3 components : a vertical line, a horizontal line and a dot. Each component means ‘sky’, ‘earth / ground’ and ‘human’.




The round shape of the dot represents the sky. The horizontal line represents flat earth / ground and the vertical line represents a human standing still. And by using only these 3 components, you can make all 21 Hangul vowels. Let’s how it’s possible, how it works.




This is what King Sejong considered as the fundamentals of the Hangul vowel. The modern Korean language began to use lines instead of dots by time but you still can see the trace of it. Hangul has a really interesting background story but I’ll tell you that another time, let’s focus on letters now.


Hangul letters look very similar so it might be very confusing at first. But you don’t have to worry. Try to remember how Hangul really works first. You will remember them all and understand how to use them perfectly after following this tutorial.

Hangul Vertical Vowel

You can distinguish Hangul vowels with 2 major types : vertical and horizontal. Every Hangul vowel is made based on those 2. Let’s start with the vertical vowels. Draw a vertical line. It looks like ‘I’ in the Latin alphabet. Interestingly, the pronunciation is also the same as ‘i (ee)’.


This letter represents ‘human’ and it looks like a standing person.


HangulRomanization + SoundAudio
(i in minute / ee in tree)


Not difficult at all right? It also looks like a skinny ‘tree’. You can remember this letter as ‘skinny tree’. You will use it to make all other Hangul vertical vowels. Let’s see what Hangul letters we can make more based on ‘ㅣ’.

Vertical + 1 Line

Now Let’s add a small branch on that skinny tree. Let’s draw a small line on the right side and now it has ‘a’ that you can find in ‘right’.

A small line on the left side is ‘U’ sound in ‘ummmmm I really don’t know what’s a good example for eo sound (LOL)’ or ‘gun


BasicVowelRomanization + SoundAudio
(A in Father)
(U in Gun)


Hangul vowels work in this method always. You will add more lines to make new sounds. Very simple right? As long as you remember this. Other Hangul letters become easier to make, easier to learn.

How To Write With a Vertical Vowel

Reading and writing Hangul letters with a vertical vowel are very easy. It’s the same as the Latin alphabet. Read and write letters from the left to the right.




However, you shouldn’t make a gap between 2 between a consonant and a vowel especially when they belong to the same syllable.


You must write a consonant and a vowel very close so they look like a single letter. It’s a bit confusing. Why do I have to write them close? Why can’t I just write them separately? It’s the most different thing between many other alphabet systems and Hangul. Let’s keep reading so we can get the answers.

The Difference Of Hangul

So, did you figure out how to write Hangul? Why don’t you try to write [imi]? Before you go further. Please, stop reading for a second and get a pen and a notebook and try to write [imi] with Hangul.


I’m waiting…


So, how did you write it? Beginners in this stage mostly write ‘ㅣ미’ because they don’t know that they can’t write only a vowel or a consonant alone for Hangul. In most European languages, writing only vowels is not so weird like ‘au’. However, that is not the correct way to write with Hangul. You have to combine at least one consonant and one vowel together always. That’s how native Koreans understand a single letter in Hangul.


가 : gaㅏ : a바 : baㅂ : b
나 : naㄴ : n사 : saㅏ : a
다 : daㅏ : a자 : jaㅈ : j
라 : laㅏ : a파 : paㅏ : a
마 : maㅁ : m하 : haㅎ : h


So, if you write 가, even though it technically has 2 Hangul letters, native Koreans consider it as a single letter. This combination of letters always makes a syllable. In this Hangul tutorial, we will call it a syllable block. So, in Hangul, a letter always means a syllable block and you have to combine a consonant and a vowel into one syllable block to make it function well.

Default Consonant : ㅇ

If we can’t write only a vowel, then how can we write texts without a consonant, such as ‘a’, or a Korean word that starts with a vowel such as Asia? For those cases, Hangul uses a default consonant ㅇ.


The default consonant makes no sound but it helps a vowel functioning itself by making a syllable block. Every single Hangul letter always depends on each letter together.




So, if you want to write ‘Baaa’, It has to be ‘바아아’, not ‘바ㅏㅏㅏ’. You must complete every text by making them into a syllable block with Hangul. I called it a default consonant to help you understand. But of course, it’s not a ‘default’ or ‘fake’ consonant to native Koreans.


BasicVowelRomanization + SoundAudio
Ee / i
(i in minute)
(a in father)
(u in gun)


You will face a lot of differences just like this between Korean and your language. You always have to remember that every language can be very different and you shouldn’t accept Korean language in ways that your language has. As long as you keep that in your mind, you will learn the correct Korean language.


More Lines for Consonants

Now let’s learn a bit trickier things for Hangul. You’ve learned 11 basic consonants. You might notice that those missed some pronunciations such as [c] or [p].


In the previous level, we made more vowels by adding an additional line like ㅣ to ㅏ and ㅓ. Hangul consonants use additional lines to make more letters and sounds. Then what happens when we add lines on the basic Korean consonants? Let’s check it with the chart.


BasicPlosiveRomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul gHangul cc
(c in cake)
Hangul dHangul tt
(t in top)
Hangul mHangul pp
(p in power)
Hangul jHangul chch
(ch in cheese)
Hangul default consonantHangul hh
(h in head)


What’s different between the consonants on the left column and the right column? It seems like additional lines make stronger and breathing out sounds. That’s exactly what the lines do with Hangul consonants. These sounds are called ‘the plosive sound’.


The plosive sounds describe a pop sound on lips like [p] or a breathing out sound like [c] or [h]. In Hangul, you can find 6 plosive letters ㅋ [k], ㅌ [t], ㅍ [p], ㅈ [j], ㅊ[ch], ㅎ[h]. Remember, additional lines mean stronger sound for Hangul consonants.


* Technically, ㄷ is almost plosive and ㅎ isn’t plosive based on IPA. Also, Korean phonetics determines ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅁ, ㅇ are plosive in certain conditions.

Hangul Horizontal Vowel

Do you remember the vertical vowels? The word ‘vertical’ was a subtle hint that Hangul also has horizontal vowels because I wouldn’t need to call it vertical if there weren’t horizontal types. These horizontal vowels are quite tricky because they have a different system to write. Another quiz, I want you to guess how to use the horizontal vowel. Write [go] using ‘ㅗ [o]’.




You probably noticed all my questions are some sort of traps. So, maybe this time you found the correct answer on how to write the horizontal vowel. Let’s see if your answer was correct. If you wrote ‘고’, then congratulations, you guessed it super duper correctly.


Horizontal vowels are placed under a consonant in a syllable block and are read from the top to the bottom, a consonant first and then a horizontal vowel.


Hangul Horizontal Vowel Example 2Hangul Horizontal Vowel Example 1


Hangul horizontal vowels are placed under a consonant, not next to a consonant. Now you see why you need to learn 2 types of vowels separately. So, let’s go check what sound horizontal vowels can make.

Basic Horizontal Vowel

Do you remember our skinny tree? Yes, it was ‘ㅣ’ and pronounced ‘i’ in skinny or ‘ee’ in tree. Now, let’s lay it down on the ground. Now it became horizontal and to represent ‘ground’ or ‘earth’.


This horizontal vowel is pronounced with no vowel sound like ‘g’ in ground or ‘t’ in tree. Let’s imagine g has a vowel like [geu-round] or [teu-ree]. That’s the sound of the horizontal vowel ‘ㅡ’. Of course, the correct pronunciation is a bit different but this is how you start.


BasicPlosiveRomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul euHangul Horizontal Vowel Example 3Geu
(g in ground)
Hangul euHangul Horizontal Vowel Example 4Peu
(p in present)
Hangul euHangul Horizontal Vowel Example 5Teu
(t in train)


It might be very confusing even though you pronounce this so many times. That’s very okay. You just need a little bit of practice. Some Hangul tutorials say it’s the same sound with ‘u’ like oo sound in goose. Well… that can’t be more wrong. ‘ㅜ [u]’ and ‘ㅡ [eu]’ are completely different sounds to native Koreans. However, one thing is correct: you have to pronounce it as a vowel.

Horizontal + 1 Line

We made more Hangul vertical vowels by adding a line on ‘ㅣ’. We also can make Hangul horizontal vowels in the same way. All we need to do is to simply add a single line. Let’s add a line and see what happens.


BasicPlosiveRomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul euHangul oo
(o in on)
Hangul euHangul uu / oo
(u in flu / oo in root)


Let’s add a line on the top of the laid tree. That makes the ‘o’ sound like o in oh or o in on. A line under the laid tree makes the ‘u’ sound. It looks like a tree sprouting a root. Yes, it’s the oo sound in root.

Y-Vowel Transformations

So far, you’ve learned what happens when you add a single line on Hangul vowels. However, what will happen when we add 2 small lines instead of 1?


Guess what will happen!


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When you add 2 lines on a vertical vowel or a horizontal vowel. It makes [y] sound on each vowel like ‘yu’, ‘yo’, ‘ya’, ‘yeo’ and ‘ye’. A really interesting thing is that many languages consider y-combinations as a consonant but it’s considered as a vowel in Hangul.


BasicPlosiveRomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul oHangul yoyo
Hangul uHangul yuyu / yoo
Hangul aHangul yaya
(ya in yard)
Hangul eoHangul yeoyeo
(yu in yup)


Of course, you can apply this rule to the vertical vowels and the horizontal vowels both. 2 small lines with vowels always makes the y-combination in Hangul. You can easily memorize them as long as you remember the basic vowels.


Now, try to write ‘san’ with Hangul. Don’t go down there. Try to write it first.


I’m waiting… waiting…


How did you write san? Again, at this stage, many beginners make a mistake. They often write something like ‘사ㄴ’. But wait, we’ve learned that Hangul can’t be written alone to be pronounced. They have to make a syllable block by combining a consonant and a vowel always. So, ‘사ㄴ’ must be wrong because ㄴ was written alone.




For those cases, we need a batchim which is a unique feature that Hangul has. Batchim is a consonant placed under other letters and pronounced at the end of the syllable block. For example, n in san becomes a batchim since it’s pronounced at the end of the syllable. We can’t write each Hangul letter separately, we have to use this method always.


I miss the fried chicken I had last night


Red colored letters are Batchims. You can see the Batchims are a consonant under other letters in each syllable block.


Problem is… Batchim has its own rules. For example, ㅅ [s] in 어젯밤 is pronounced as ‘t’, not ‘s’ while other batchims keep the pronunciation with no change. Why does it happen? Why does Hangul use Batchim? And what does Batchim really mean? If you need answers for those questions and master Hangul, click this link to check this batchim tutorial. But, no need to click the link now, I’ll share you the link at the end of this tutorial again.


With Vertical VowelWith Horizontal Vowel
Hangul Batchim SanHangul Batchim Son


Remember batchim is always placed below other Hangul letters and also is pronounced at the end of a syllable block. It doesn’t matter which type of vowel is used.

Missing Sounds in Hangul

You found some Hangul pronunciations that your language doesn’t have. Then probably Hangul also doesn’t have some pronunciations that your language has.


Hangul doesn’t have F, R, V, Z and Th sound. You have to replace them with similar Hangul pronunciations when you write your language. For example, you want to write your name and your name has F, R, V, Z or Th, then you have to replace them with other letters.


Fㅍ [p]
Rㄹ [l]
Vㅂ [b]
Zㅈ [j]
Thㅅ [s] / ㅆ [ss]

Missing Letters in Hangul

Just like Hangul doesn’t have some letters and pronunciations, it also doesn’t have some features that the Latin alphabet has. It’s upper cases. Hangul doesn’t have upper cases so you don’t have to make the first letter of a sentence bigger or write it differently.


Twin Consonants

Some Hangul letters have their twin brothers. ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ are those. They are called ‘twin consonant (쌍자음)’. But how are they pronounced? Should we pronounce them just like ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ?


If you are a complete beginner for Korean pronunciation, Twin consonants must sound like the plosive sounds to you such as ‘ㅋ [k]’, ‘ㅌ [t]’, ‘ㅍ [p]’, ‘ㅊ [ch]’. But the twin consonants are actually very different from them. Even some tutorials, that foreigners wrote, say twin consonants have the same sounds to plosive. However, for Koreans, they are very different sounds.


BasicPlosiveRomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul gHangul kkgg [kk]
Hangul dHangul dddd [tt]
Hangul bHangul bbbb [pp]
Hangul sHangul ssss
Hangul jHangul jjjj


However, there is an easy way to pronounce the twin consonants if you are familiar with Spanish language or pronunciation. Because some of them have the same sound to Spanish c, t, p. They use the tension on the throat (the same tension when you pronounce ‘e’ in ear). If you still don’t understand them, try to block your throat half and pronounce them.


Congratulations, you just nailed the pronunciation that almost all students usually take more than months to succeed. Of course, you have to practice for a couple of weeks until you get used to them.

Hangul ㅅ and ㅆ Pronunciation

Before we go further, I’ll answer your question that you probably have in your mind. What’s different between ㅅ and ㅆ. How can Hangul have 2 different ‘s’ sounds?


HangulTongue PositionAudio
Hangul sPronunciation ㅅ


First of all, you have to understand that ㅅ is a totally different sound from English s. Try to pronounce English s then you can notice that you make sss sound at the behind of your teeth. But ㅅ sound shares the same method with the ‘sh’ sound. It makes sss sound near the throat. Try to pronounce sh without moving your lips.


HangulTongue PositionAudio
Hangul ssPronunciation ㅆ


Again, try to pronunce ‘sh’ sound but, in this time, make a little tension on your throat like half-closing the throat and pronounce ㅅ. It will make your sh sound much stronger which is fortis. That’s Korean ㅆ.

E-Vowel Combinations

What are the most basic vowels in most languages? Yes, it’s ‘a / i / u / e / o’. However, you might notice a weird fact that we didn’t learn ‘e sound’ for basic Hangul vowels. Why? The reason is simple. ‘e’ sound is not the basic vowel in Hangul.


BasicERomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul a+iHangul aeae
(e in end)
Hangul eo+iHangul ee
(e in end)


Hangul always uses 2 vertical vowels to make e-vowel combinations. What you must know about them is that ㅐ and ㅔ both have the same ‘e’ sound (e : e in edit). They are different only for the spelling. When native Koreans want to know which e-vowel is used for spelling, they ask if it’s ‘ai e (e based on ㅏ)’ or ‘eoi e (e based on ㅓ)’.


Some Hangul tutorials may teach you that they are pronounced differently. They WERE pronounced differently about 50 years ago (I guess). Now both Hangul letters share the exact same pronunciation and native Koreans CAN’T distinguish them anymore.

Y-E-Vowel Combinations

Quick question, what sound do 2 small branches on a vowel? Yes, it makes y-combinations such as ‘yu’, ‘yo’, ‘ya’. You can also apply this combination rule to e combinations.


BasicERomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul ya+iHangul yaeyae
(ye in yes)
Hangul yeo+iHangul yeye
(ye in yes)


Just like ㅐ and ㅔ, They both are pronounced exactly the same [ye]. Koreans don’t and can’t distinguish them. They are different only for spelling. Also, Native Koreans often pronounce them as ‘e’, instead of ‘ye’, such as ‘계기 [gegi]’, ‘연예인 [yeneoin]’.

W-Vowel Combinations

When you combine a vertical vowel and a horizontal vowel together. It makes ‘w-vowels’ such as ‘wa’, ‘wi’, ‘we’. Since you learned all Hangul vowels and combinations, You have an ability to understand Korean w-vowels even if you are not aware of it yet. Wanna test if you can bring it out from your unconsciousness? Read ‘와’ with no any help.


Don’t check the answer yet. DON’T CHECK IT.


If you read 와 as [wa] or [oa], then you read it very correctly. Don’t be sad even if you answered it wrong, you know I always make tricky questions. As you can see, Hangul w-vowels use 2 different vowels and you simply need to read them very fast.


BasicERomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul eui exampleHangul euieui / ui
Hangul oe exampleHangul oeoe
(we in west)
Hangul wa exampleHangul wawa
(wa in wash)
Hangul wi exampleHangul wiwi
(wi in wish)
Hangul weo exampleHangul weoweo / wo
(wo in word)


Hangul w-vowels always use 1 horizontal vowel and 1 vertical vowel and you simply need to read them very fast from a horizontal vowel to a vertical vowel (or from left to right). Let’s see if it’s correct.


ㅗ [o] and ㅏ [a] -> ㅘ [wa]
ㅜ [u] and ㅓ [eo] -> ㅝ [wo]
ㅜ [u] and ㅣ [i] -> ㅟ [wi]


Very easy. Remember the key is to pronounce each vowel very fast. Also, you might notice that ㅚ isn’t pronounced as what you expected. That’s the only exception for the basic Korean alphabet.

W-E Combinations

Now it’s time to learn final Hangul combinations. It follows the same method with w-vowels but, in this time, we will use e-combinations to make [we] sound. Again, you have to use a horizontal vowel and a vertical vowel together and read them very fast.


BasicERomanization + SoundAudio
Hangul wae exampleHangul waewae
(we in west)
Hangul we exampleHangul wewe
(we in west)


You can make 2 Hangul letters for w-e combinations but they are actually pronounced the same as [we : wa in wait]. They are used only for spelling just like ㅐ and ㅔ. Also, ㅚ has the same sound to ㅙ and ㅞ

W-Vowel With a Batchim

Writing W-vowel combinations can be a bit tricky especially when it has a final consonant in a syllable. But you know enough how to write Hangul now and just need to simply follow every step you’ve learned in this tutorial. This will be your final test. Grab your pen and write [won] in Hangul on your notebook.




If you applied everything you’ve learned so far, your answer must be 원. Congratulations, now you are ready to read and write Korean language. Now you perfectly know how Korean alphabet system works. Let’s check the writing order for the last time.


ㅓ / ㅜ / ㅇ / ㄴ Hangul won example


Always a consonant comes first and then a horizontal vowel and a vertical vowel and a batchim. Reading and writing always work in the same way. You have to remember that you can’t write a consonant or a vowel alone. You must make a syllable block.

Don’t Doubt Your Ear

Don’t doubt what you hear. For example, 맑다 is supposed to be pronounced as ‘[makdda]’ but almost all Koreans pronounce it as ‘[maldda]’. Many Korean words often don’t follow the pronunciation rules in conversations.


맑다 [malkda][makdda][malda]


You don’t have to be perfect. The key is not that you know every rule perfectly. The key is how natural you are. Sometimes, being not perfect makes you sound more natural and more native. And also you should know I romanized them to help you understand but the real Korean pronunciation is very different. If you keep pronouncing them in the pronunciation of your language, Koreans wouldn’t understand you quickly.

Why Is Reading Harder Than Writing?

Do you remember I said reading Korean can be harder than writing In the beginning? I want to talk about it before we finish the tutorial.


Almost every time when Koreans teach Hangul to students. They really often say that you can write any Korean words based on the pronunciation and read any Korean words based on the spelling, so it’s really easy to learn. However, it’s not completely true even though they actually believe that the spelling and the pronunciation are always matched.


That is correct only when you learn how to write your name (foreign name, I mean) in Hangul, which is the step that every beginner learns. But the problems happen when you start to learn Korean words because a lot of Korean words are spelled differently compared to the its pronunciation.


That false information always confuses students when they have to step forward to the next level because the facts always confront what they’ve learned. I’ll tell you right now. Korean language has really complicated pronunciation rules and it’s a bit hard to master. It even confuses native Koreans. If someone tells you it’s really easy, then there must be 2 reasons. they know it’s really hard but they don’t want to demotivate you. 2nd is that they really don’t fully understand what they teach.


Fortunately, if you pronounce each Hangul letter perfectly, those rules often follow automatically. What you have to do is only 2 things. 1st, remember spelling and pronunciation aren’t always matched. 1st, take your time to learn the Korean pronunciation. It’ll take you only a couple of weeks. It can be challenging but It will give you much better insight for the Korean pronunciation.

You Made It! You Are Awesome!

Don’t skip this! I’ll tell you what you should do next!


Now you know almost everything about Hangul. Congratulations and I’m so proud of you. You are awesome. Great job. Maybe it’s just a beginning, maybe it’s a single step, but I have to tell you that you made one huge step for speaking Korean very fluently soon.


Learning something new is always challenging for everyone. And today, you succeed at the challenge. What could be achieving more than that? And Since you started it, you can achieve everything, everyday and move forward feeling proud of yourself.


Now I want to give you another challenge that you can achieve. It’s about batchim. I taught you very briefly about it in this tutorial but you should need to know a little bit more because it’s a very essential part of Hangul and Korean language. Once you learn batchim, you won’t be confused with Hangul ever again. Why don’t you enjoy your success for today and start to learn batchim tomorrow? You deserve having fun because you have been awesome today.


I’m really really really proud of you. And Jun is your Korean teacher’s name from now on. So, please keep that in your mind. See you very soon with another tutorial!

Related Tutorials & References

Learn Batchim to master Hangul

The National Institute of The Korean Language

2020/04/27 : 3rd edition updated. Copyright © 2017 Korean Jun. All rights reserved.