Bbyong Korean means how are you

Crash Course - The Korean Alphabet

Everyone knows something about the Chinese language or script: it has an incredible number of characters, all of which are very difficult to learn, every syllable can be pronounced in different ways, with every small change in the pitch of the voice making serious changes in the meaning and so on.

Now the idea is obvious that all Asian languages ​​are "somehow similar" and therefore Korean must be similarly difficult.


Korean is a very simple language! Really! A couple of reasons for this:

  • The alphabet consists of only 24 basic characters (not even upper and lower case letters), which are very easy to draw
  • There are no different accents for different meanings like in Chinese
  • There are no conjugations (I run, you run etc.)
  • No declensions (the man, the man, etc.)

In the following I want to give you the Korean alphabet Hangeul teach. Yes, that can really be learned in a very short time! The Korean King Sejong, who created the alphabet in 1445, wrote:

The Korean script is simple, practical and logical, so that a smart man can learn it in one morning and a stupid man only needs 10 days.

Well then look how long you need 😉

Let's start with a little bit of prior knowledge.


First of all, it is important to know that Korean words are not formed by simply stringing letters together, as is the case with our Latin letters. Instead, 2-3 (in exceptional cases, 4) letters are combined into one syllable. For example, the Korean greeting "Annyeonghasaeyo" consists of five syllables:

I will explain later how the syllables are formed. It is important, however, that some consonants on the Beginning a syllable can be pronounced differently than am end! That may sound strange at first, but later it works very intuitively. So for every consonant I will name the pronunciation im Initial sound (Beginning of a syllable) and im Final (End of a syllable).

Incidentally, there is even that in German. For example, think of the letter r. At the beginning of a syllable, as in "lawn", it is pronounced clearly at the back of the throat. At the end of a syllable, as in “clear”, we hardly speak it, it sounds like “klah”. Hardly anyone is really "klarrr" say.


Many textbooks make it very easy for themselves and try to simply assign a Latin letter to each Korean letter. This may work halfway, but the resulting pronunciation often sounds cruel to Korean ears. Some sounds cannot be simply “translated” into German. The English “th”, for example, does not exist in German and if someone simply says “t” or “s” instead, we all know how that sounds (even though an English person will understand them anyway). I will try to describe as best I can what each sound sounds like. If in doubt, just check out a few tutorial videos on YouTube and listen to the sounds spoken out loud. I then also give an official transcription (the so-called revised Romanization), which is based on English.

Ready? Let's go!

Consonants (14 pieces)

First you see the pure letter and right next to it a writing instruction, which can also be divided into several steps.

At first, more like a G, in the end more like a k, so a little harder.

The official legend is "g / k"

Super light: just like ours n, both in the initial and in the final
The official legend is "n"

Initially rather d in the end rather t, so again a little harder.

The official legend is "d / t"

Uiuiui, the most interesting letter of all. Let's take the official transliteration first:

It reads "r / l", that is, in the initial sound R. in the final L.. That sounds confusing because in German the two sounds r and l have nothing in common with each other. The Korean ㄹ is not formed in the throat like our r, but by striking the front part of the palate with the tongue, we would say “the r is rolled”. Try it out: if you now pronounce a rolled r and an l one after the other, you will notice that these two sounds are almost the same, the tongue only stays up longer with the l.

Please do yourself a favor and learn the "rolled r" instead of simply speaking a German r at first, that sounds terrible!

Again very light: in the initial and in the final like m

Official legend: "m"

Initially rather b and a bit harder at the end, like p

Official legend: "b / p"

Initially like s, in the final like d. The exception for the initial sound is if an i follows, then it is not pronounced "si" but "shi" (as in English "ship").

Official legend: "s"

Initially this consonant is not pronounced (mute), in the final it is like ng in the word “lang

Initially like that j in the English word “jungle” or “jazz” (roughly “dsch”). In the end like t

Official legend: "j / t"

A little harder than the letter before, so something like that ch in English "Chat "(" ch "). The final is like again t

Official legend: "ch / t"

In the initial and final like a hard one k

Official legend: "k

In the initial and final like a hard one t

Official legend: "t"

In the initial and final like a hard one p

Official legend: "p"

Initially like a H, in the end mute

Official legend: "h"

Now there are a few more double consonants, but I'll leave them out for now. You can download the following overview table for practice (right click, "Save graphic as ...").


Vowels (14 pieces)

The vowels are much easier to write, as there are basically just a few characters that are rotated 90 degrees.

With regard to the pronunciation, I'll take one thing up front: have you ever noticed that the German “o” can be pronounced in two different ways? Take the word “basket” or “there” and then the word “above” or “moon”. We hardly notice it, but actually the o sounds very different in the first two words than in the other two. Koreans distinguish these two sounds in their writing. The "basket" -o is circumscribed with "eo", the "moon" -o with "o". Because most don't know, a common mistake arises: the city Seoul is not pronounced "See-oh-ul", but "So-ul" where the o is pronounced as in the word "basket".

I will not explain the spelling here because the characters are very light. Always from top to bottom and left to right!

But now to work:

Like a German a.

Official legend: "a"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. As in German Yes.

Official legend: "ya"

As the O in “dOrt "or" KOrb "

Official legend: "eo"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. Like in "York "

Official legend: "yeo"

The O as in "Oben ”or“ MOnd ".

Official legend: "o"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. Like the "jo" in "Yohannes "

Official legend: "yo"

Like the German one u

Official legend "u"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. Like the "ju" in "Julia "

Official legend: "yu"

Unfortunately I have to fit in here, this vowel cannot really be explained in writing because there is no German or English word that contains this sound. It goes in the direction of “e” or “ö”, but the best thing to do is to watch a video.

Official legend: "eu"

Like ours i

Official legend: "i"

Is actually a combination of ㅓ and ㅣ and is between e and Ä pronounced.

Official legend: "e"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. So "ever" or "yeah"

official legend: "ye"

Is actually a combination of ㅏ and ㅣ and becomes like Ä pronounced

Official legend: "ae"

Like the previous letter with a “y / y” in front of it. So "yeah"

Official legend "yae"

A couple of double sounds are missing again, but we'll leave it at that for now.

And here is the overview:

Composition of syllables

As already said, the Korean letters are put together in syllables. A syllable consists of either
- consonant + vowel (KV) or
- consonant + vowel + consonant (KVK)
There is another constellation (KVKK), but I'll leave that out for now.

You may have noticed that some vowels are horizontal and some are vertical.

Vertical: ㅏ ㅑ ㅓ ㅕ ㅣ ㅐ ㅔ
Horizontal: ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅠ ㅡ

If you want a consonant (for the sake of simplicity, I only use ) and connecting vowels (KV), you write the two letters

  • side by sideif there is a more vertical Vowel is and
  • among themselvesif there is a more horizontal Vowel is.

Examples KV vertical:

Examples KV Horizontal:

If we now want to add a third consonant (KVK), it will alwaysunder the other two letters are written

Examples of KVK vertical:

Examples of KVK Horizontal:

Our first word

Now let's look again at the example word from the beginning, the standard Korean greeting:

As you can see, the first syllable begins with a ㅇ, i.e. a silent sound. Only the ㅏ and ㄴ are pronounced as “an”. Then the second syllable follows again with 3 letters: ㄴ and ㅕ result in “nyeo” and the final ㅇ is pronounced as “ng”. So “nyeong” (remember, the transcription “eo” is misleading !! The pronunciation is like the o in “basket”). Then we have ㅎ and ㅏ, which simply become “ha”, ㅅ and ㅔ, which become “sae” or “se”, and again a silent ㅇ followed by ㅛ, meaning “yo”.

The greeting is ready!

Of course there are a few more things to explain, but most of the words can be read with my instructions. If you are interested, I will add another chapter to explain additions and special features. That was it for now.

Have fun practicing!

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