Learn to read, write and pronounce Korean

A much-improved version of this course has now been published by Teach Yourself. It features a better letter order, many more exercises, more types of exercises, and complete audio of every single Korean word. Please use this course instead: "Korean Script Hacking" by Judith Meyer. You will also be supporting my work as a course creator. This web course will no longer be updated.

Lesson 2

Welcome back! This is the 2nd lesson of "Learn to read, write and pronounce Korean". In the last lesson, you already learned 4 letters: ㅂ, ㅏ, ㄴ and O. In this lesson, you will learn 4 new ones and combined with the ones you learned earlier they will open up quite a few Korean words to you.

The first new letter is Mieum:

This is pronounced just like a regular English m. Listen to Mieum. Be careful not to confuse its appearance with 'O', which has rounded corners rather than straight.

As an exercise, try to read the following Korean words that contain the letter Mieum. You can see the solutions by moving your mouse over the Korean word, as usual.

마나마 capital city of Bahrain ma-na-ma     Manama
안남 name of Vietnam before it became 'Vietnam' an-nam     Annam
암만 capital city of Jordan am-man     Amman

Are the As boring you yet? It's time to learn another vowel.

This is the vowel i. It is pronounced like the ee in meet. Listen to it here. The Korean letter looks much like the English letter I, so it's easy to remember. It also looks like the Korean letter for a, except that the dash to the right is missing. You will notice that a lot of Korean vowels are formed on the basis of one or two vertical lines with dashes attached to them, so memorise them well and don't get confused.

Practise reading:

나미비아 country in Africa na-mi-bi-a     Namibia
capital city of Austria bin     Vienna (Wien)

Now for a very important letter that will unlock lots of words to you: Rieul

This letter is pronounced like r or l, typically somewhere in between in true Asian fashion. Listen carefully: this is Rieul. According to the official Korean romanisation system, it is always transliterated as l.

Here are lots of words to practise with:

바바라 personal name ba-ba-ra     Barbara
이란 country that has been in the news much lately i-ran     Iran
리마 capital of Peru li-ma     Lima
마닐라 capital of the Philippines ma-nil-la     Manila
말리 country in Africa mal-li     Mali
big city in France lil     Lille
마일 distance measurement ma-il     mile
리비아 country on the North coast of Africa li-bi-a     Libya

The last letter for this lesson shall be Giyeok:

This letter is pronounced like g or k. Listen to Giyeok. Be careful not to confuse it with . When this letter is combined with a vowel such as a or i, it changes shape slightly. See the syllable gi for instance: .

Words for practise:

가나 country in Western Africa ga-na     Ghana
기니 another country in Western Africa gi-ni     Guinea
리가 capital of Latvia ri-ga     Riga
알바니아 country in the Balkans al-ba-ni-a     Albania
가이아나 country in South America ga-i-a-na     Guyana
감비아 country almost enclosed by Senegal gam-bi-a     Gambia

Did you have any major difficulty reading the practise words for this lesson? No? Very good! You have now learned 8 Korean letters already and the rest won't be difficult either. Feel free to continue with the next lesson.

More resources for learning Korean

Your first 100 words in Korean: demystifying the Korean script
Integrated Korean: Beginning level 1 textbook
Teach yourself Korean (complete course, romanisation only)
Rosetta Stone Korean
Langenscheidt's Pocket dictionary Korean-English
Lonely Planet Korean phrasebook
Reference grammar of Korean
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