Yesterday was officially Hangul Day ( 한글 날), so 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.
I caught the Hangul 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 norebang!
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 Hangul.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason why I enjoy Hangul. 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!
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 Hangul 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 Hangul. I can tell if a product is from Korea. I can join in posting messages in Hangul 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!
There are hundreds more reasons to love Hangul, 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 Hangul, especially as it’s such a different process to writing in English.
Belated Happy Hangul 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 Hangul’s origins and processes, check out Maria Margarita’s blog.