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Here are the 14 consonants of Korean.  These consonants are later coupled with a vowel to make a block shaped syllable. 

Before we get started, I'd like to tell you a little secret: Each consonant above contains a hint about how to pronounce it! When designing Hangeul, King Sejong took into consideration the shape of the mouth when making each sound.  Below is an explanation of this system, as well as information on how to write each letter.  It is much easier to memorize Hangeul if you practice writing the letters out for yourself.  Please make note that the stroke order is quite vital to ensuring legibility, so it is recommended that you learn the proper stroke order right from the beginning to foster good habits. Luckily for us, we can make all 14 consonants by simply adding strokes to 5 consonants in pink.  So let's start with those.  



   

The first consonant in the Korean alphabet is ㄱ and is said to have the qualities of a tree according to Ohaeng, the philosophy of the 5 elements. ㄱ makes a sound that is fairly close to the sound of hard G in English.  The shape of ㄱrepresents the shape your tongue makes when you pronounce it. See for yourself, try making a hard G sound and notice how your tongue draws upward and to the back, like in the drawing.

 




We have just reviewed the five main consonants.  What about the remaining nine?  Amazingly, the rest of the consonants are all derived from the ones we've just covered.   



   

Just by adding a little bit of aspiration to the "G" sound of “ㄱ”, you can say “ㅋ" which is essentially a “K”!  The symbol for this sound, "ㅋ" is simply a “ㄱ” with an extra line added to symbolize the need for aspiration.



Letter Letter Name* Sound (Approx. to English) Sample Vocab
Gieok G(grand)
Nieun N(none)
Degeut D (door)
Rieul Between R and L. Pretend you are making an R sound and then push the tip of your tongue
forward a tad.
라면
Mieum M (money)
Bieup B (like English B, but without voicing the sound)
Siot S (sing)
Ieung silent at beginning of syllable, NG (sing) if at ending.
Jieut Similar to J with tongue pressed up behind the teeth
Chieut CH (cheese)
Kieuk K  (key)
Tieut T (try)
Pieup P (pizza)
Hieut H (high)

 *Please note: These are the official names of the letter, given for your reference (Like the letter "G" is called "gee") These are not very important when beginning, you can learn them slowly over time.  Instead focus on what sound each letter produces. 



You might notice some words have the same consonant stuck together two times. The sound is very similar to original pronunciation, but it is simply tensed, pronounced more strongly. These sounds also require some listening practice in order to recognize the difference.

 


 





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