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 4

Welcome back! This is the 4th lesson of "Learn to read, write and pronounce Korean". In this lesson you'll learn the rest of the basic Korean letters and you will continue to use your knowledge actively in writing.

The first new letter is the vowel U:

This is pronounced like the oo in boot. Listen to it here. This vowel is also wider than it is tall, so it goes below the consonant rather than next to it.

Here are Korean words that contain this letter. As usual, move over the Korean words in order to see the solution.

두바이 city in the United Arab Emirates du-ba-i     Dubai
사우디아라비아 country in the Middle East sa-u-di-a-ra-bi-a     Saudi Arabia
불가리아 country in Eastern Europe bul-ga-ri-a     Bulgaria
루마니아 another country in Eastern Europe lu-ma-ni-a     Romania
온두라스 country in Central America on-du-ra-seu     Honduras
우간다 country in Africa u-gan-da     Uganda
수리남 country in South America su-li-nam     Suriname

And try to write the following words:

Rwanda (Ruanda) lu-an-da   ->   루안다
Burundi bu-lun-di   ->   부룬디
Busan (second largest city in South Korea) bu-san   ->   부산
Brunei beu-ru-na-i   ->   브루나이
Sudan su-dan   ->   수단
Ulsan (big city in Korea) ul-san   ->   울산

The next of the vowels you should learn is "eo". It makes a sound like the u in jug. Listen to it here.

Try to translate these Korean words.

더블린 capital of Ireland deo-beul-lin     Dublin
런던 capital of the United Kingdom leon-deon     London
서울 capital of South Korea seo-ul     Seoul
서비스 military ____ seo-bi-seu     service
보일러 part of a central heating system bo-il-leo     boiler
엄마 mum eom-ma     mama

Now try to write down the following words in Korean:

Samsung (samseong) sam-seong   ->   삼성
Oregon o-li-geun   ->   오리건
bus beo-seu   ->   버스
virus (remember what happens to 'v' in Korean!) ba-i-leo-seu   ->   바이러스

Now we'll learn about the vowel E. Since this vowel opens up really many new words, we'll use this for a big revision.

This is the Korean letter E. It is pronounced as in bed.

Here are many words with this letter. First, practise reading:

봄베이 big city in India bom-be-i     Bombay
게임 children like it ge-im     game
메일 letters me-il     mail
로메 capital of Togo lo-me     Lomé
인도네시아 big country in South-East Asia in-do-ne-si-a     Indonesia
말레이시아 country near the previous country mal-le-i-si-a     Malaysia
레모네이드 refreshing drink le-mo-ne-i-deu     lemonade
이스라엘 country in the Middle East i-seu-la-el     Israel
벨기에 multilingual country in Europe bel-gi-e     Belgium
덴버 capital of Colorado den-beo     Denver
방글라데시 small country near India bang-geul-la-de-si     Bangladesh
네바다 state known for gambling ne-ba-da     Nevada

Second, practise writing:

Kobe ko-be   ->   고베
Lebanon le-ba-non   ->   레바논
Senegal se-ne-gal   ->   세네갈
Maine me-in   ->   메인
Belarus bel-la-ru-seu   ->   벨라루스
Grenada geu-le-na-da   ->   그레나다
Buenos Aires bu-e-no-seu-a-i-le-seu   ->   부에노스아이레스
Venezuela be-ne-su-el-la   ->   베네수엘라
El Salvador el-sal-ba-do-reu   ->   엘살바도르

Next I'd like you to meet the vowel AE:

This letter is pronounced like the a in land.

Words for practise:

마이애미 famous beach ma-i-ae-mi     Miami
댈러스 city in Texas dael-le-seu     Dallas
댄서 person who likes to move daen-se     dancer
music style raeb     rap
앨라배마 sweet home ael-la-bae-ma     Alabama

And now write a few more:

Daegu dae-gu   ->   대구
San Diego (another i after the e) saen-di-e-i-go   ->   샌디에이고
Maryland me-lil-laen-deu   ->   메릴랜드
Rhode Island ro-deu-a-il-laen-deu   ->   로드아일랜드

Second-to-last letter: hieut

Hieut is pronounced as an h. Listen to Hieut.

Some words with hieut:

바하마 popular holiday islands ba-ha-ma     Bahamas
헝가리 country in Europe heong-ga-li     Hungary
하라레 capital city of Zimbabwe ha-la-le     Harare
호놀룰루 city in Hawaii ho-nol-lul-lu     Honolulu
햄버거 popular fast food haem-beo-geo     hamburger
하우스 style of music ha-u-seu     house

Practise writing Hieut:

Doha do-ha   ->   도하
Hanoi ha-noi   ->   하노이
Ohio o-ha-i-o   ->   오하이오
Shanghai sang-ha-i   ->   상하이

The very last basic letter left is Jieut:

This letter is pronounced like j in journalist or like ch in chair. Here's an example: Jieut.

Read the following:

나이지리아 country in Africa na-i-ji-ri-a     Nigeria
이미지 picture i-mi-ji     image
엔진 car part en-jin     engine
메시지 something I have to tell you me-si-ji     message
로스앤젤레스 city on the west coast of the USA lo-seu-aen-jel-le-seu     Los Angeles
조지아 state on the east coast of the USA jo-ji-a     Georgia
개라지 they repair cars gae-ra-ji     garage
오랜지주스 drink o-laen-ji-ju-seu     orange juice
루이지애나 state on the Gulf of Mexico lu-i-ji-ae-na     Louisiana
버지니아 state for lovers beo-ji-ni-a     Virginia
Soju (traditional Korean drink) so-ju   ->   소주
Abuja a-bu-ja   ->   아부자
Nanjing nan-jing   ->   난징
Beijing be-i-jing   ->   베이징
Daejeon dae-jeon   ->   대전
Niger (3 syllables) ni-je-reu   ->   니제르
Geneva je-ne-ba   ->   제네바

Congratulations, you now know all basic letters in Korean! In the next lessons, you will just learn about variations and combinations. They won't be harder than the previous lessons either, so just go on till you can read the Korean script fluently! You can start with the next lesson right now, if you like.

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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