Hangeul, How Cool

Written by on November 8, 2011 in Worldwide Korea Bloggers

* This post is written by Anne-Maria Cole, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.

October 9 is officially Hangeul Day (한글 날). Let’s celebrate the unique alphabet, and the characters and words that it makes up!In my Korean class, we were asked what drew us to learn Korean, and what we liked about the language as well as the letters themselves. There are any number of reasons why someone in London, or anywhere else in the world, would take up learning this vibrant language.

Studying Korean, using Hangul

Studying Korean, using Hangeul

I caught the Hangeul bug after my teaching year, and now long to communicate with my Korean friends and ex-students in their first language rather than mine. I dream of writing newsy and clever e-mails to my Korean penpals. At the moment, broken Korean will have to do, but it’s a good start.

Other students in my class have Korean partners or even family members, are fans of Korean television or just want to be able to read the lyrics when they sing along in a noraebang!

Studying Korean, using Hangul

Studying Korean, using Hangeul

That’s why I love coming to class every week. We are such a diverse bunch of people and all have different reasons for being there, but are united by our passion for learning Korean, and reading and writing Hangeul.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason why I enjoy Hangeul. I love the fact that this alphabet was created for ease of learning by King Sejong The Great. He created a simple system, with letter shapes correlating to the movement of the tongue in speech. Thanks to him, students like me have been able to learn the alphabet within a matter of days, or even hours!

We have King Sejong The Great to thank for the Hangul alphabet

We have King Sejong The Great to thank for the Hangeul alphabet

Although learning Korean is a very complex and sometimes arduous process for us Brits, being able to read relatively fluently early on in the process is a great morale booster, and allows scope for reading, writing and conversation almost immediately.

Since learning the alphabet, I have delighted at being able to spot and decipher Hangeul in so many unexpected places. I noticed that the mysterious writing on the uniforms and space-craft in Duncan Jones’ 2009 movie Moon was in fact Hangeul. I can tell if a product is from Korea. I can join in posting messages in Hangeul on the walls of my favourite London cafe Seoul Bakery. And, maybe most importantly of all, not only can I be sure that I am buying Korean stickers rather than Japanese, I can also tell what they actually say!

Did you spot the Hangul in Duncan Jones' "Moon"?

Did you spot the Hangeul in Duncan Jones’ “Moon”?

There are hundreds more reasons to love Hangeul, but I couldn’t close without mentioning its appearance. I find the characters artistic and visually very interesting. My trekkie friend assures me that they bear some resemblance to Cling-on (much to my amusement), but I simply take joy in the way that my pen moves when I write Hangeul, especially as it’s such a different process to writing in English.

Hangeul

Hangeul

Belated Happy Hangeul Day to Korean speakers and students all over the globe!

Here’s a video news article that features my Korean class hard at work, and interviews my wonderful teacher. For a detailed explanation of Hangeul’s origins and processes, check out Maria Margarita’s blog.

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WKB

The Worldwide Korea Bloggers (WKB) is a gathering of people from different parts of the world, all having affection for Korea. Currently, there are 50 bloggers from 17 different countries and they share their own precious experiences with Korea and its culture on Korea Blog.