Introduction to Hangeul
Teh Korean alphabet is known as Hangeul. In 1443 King Sejong the Great and a group of scholars under his patronage invented this systematic rendition of spoken sound, which was introduced to the public as Hun-Min-Jeong-Eum 1446 to improve literacy in Korea.
Hangeul consists of 40 letters, of which 21 letters are vowels and 19 letters consonants. The vowels of Hangeul were developed according to Confucianism's three basic components of the universe: Heaven, Earth, and Man. '.', 'ㅡ', and 'ㅣ' represent the circular shape of heaven, earth, and man, respectively. The consonants of Hangeul were desighed to reflect the place and manner of articulation. For example, 'ㄴ' represents the shape of the tongue body when it is pronounced. For these reasons, Hangeul is widely acclaimed by linguists as an ingenious invention.
In Korean, the consonants and vowels are always pronounced in combination, with the exception of the initial silent consonant 'ㅇ'. Accordingly, Hangeul is written in syllabic units made up of two, three, or four letters. There are two basic syllable structures: 'Consonant-Vowel' and 'Consonant'Vowel-Consonant'.
Currently, Hangeul is used by 45 million people in South Korea, 23 million in North Korea, and several million Koreans living in other countries such as China, the United States, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. In addition, Hangeul is taught in voer 50 North American universities, with programs expanding each year. Korean language courses and degrees are offered in over 20 universities in Europe, East Asia, and Australia.
As Korea becomes more intimately associated with other countries and its influence in world economics and politics grows, the international community's knowledge of the Korean language and culture is likely to increase.