Origins of the Korean Alphabet Hangeul

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 at 3:35 am

Korean is the only language in the world that can precisely pinpoint the origins of its alphabet. During the reign of King Se Jong, the fourth ruler of the Chosun Dynasty from 1410-1450, he devised a group of royal scholars called Jip Hyun Jeon (Congregation of Worthies) to plan and coordinate advances to the sciences and arts in Korea. Like the renaissance in Europe, this was time when Korea thrived with new innovations especially benefiting from its new phonetic alphabet called Hangeul which King Se Jong along with his group of scholars designed.

The modern alphabet used today has 24 letters, 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The Korean alphabet is the most scientific form or letters known in history. The shape of the letter forms are dependent on the shapes that the mouth makes when making certain sounds.

The vowels were constructed in a much more philosophical and almost mystic way in which it relies not on just the physical but including heaven and earth as a means to create balance with the philosophy of yin and yang, or eum (음 [陰]) and yang (양 [陽]).

In essence, the letters depict the movement of your lips, tongue, teeth and throat as if they were like notes and stage directions combine. The alphabet is as followed:


Each syllable consists of at least one vowel. And King Se Jong created a new form of combining the letters to form these syllables called Jamo (자모). The vowels always lie either to the right of the consonants or below it, never on top or the left of consonants.