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 5

Welcome back! It has taken me a while, but I finally found some time to work on this lesson again. Your positive feedback convinced me that it would be worthwhile, that my lessons are read and appreciated. By the way, I'd like to create similar lessons for other scripts, so if you know any, please contact me. Let's start with the lesson. In this 5th lesson you are going to learn aspirated consonants and vowels with Y.

The first aspirated letter you are going to learn is Kiuek:

Kiuek is pronounced as a forceful /k/ sound, transliterated as k' . Appearance-wise it is based on the soft Giyeok (/g/ or /k/ sound), but with an extra horizontal line, making it look like a mirrored F.

Let's have a look at Korean words and names that you can read now:

캐나다 country in America
쿠바 country somewhere south of the above
이라크 country formerly known as Mesopotamia
클레스 unpopular with students
알코올 popular with students
바스켓볼 sport
카메라 must-have for a tourist
마다가스카르 country east of Africa
방콕 capital of Thailand
헬싱키 great city, if you like darkness
자메이카 country near #2
멕시코 country not too far from the above

Now practice your ability to write Korean. Keep in mind that any K-sound in these words will be an aspirated K, a Kiuek.

Hong Kong

The second aspirated letter you'll learn is Tieut.

Tieut is pronounced as an aspirated /t/ . Just like Kiuek it's based on its softer version (Digeut) with an extra horizontal line, making it look like an E or like a E with a disconnected top line in some fonts.

Here are some words featuring Tieut:

게이트 like a door
테니스 sport
스트레스 problem with having an important job
인터넷 it's worldwide
넥타이 worn by men
맨하탄 borough of a big city
아이티 country in the same area as Jamaica
이탈리아 origin of the Romans
오스트리아 home of many composers
이집트 home of some very old monuments
몰타 island country between Europe and Africa
아르헨티나 country in South America

Now some more straight-forward ones that you can write yourself. All Ts will be aspirated here.


This is the letter Pieup, an aspirated version of Bieup. It doesn't look quite as similar to its non-aspirated version as the previous letters have, but it looks remarkably similar to Pi! This /p'/ sound often replaces the F in foreign words, as Korean doesn't have an F sound.

Words featuring Pieup:

필름 movie
팩스 what they had before e-mail
오페라 some classical works
use it to write
테이프 for recordings
파티 celebration
커피 drink
네팔 country in the Himalaya
프랑스 country known for love
파나마 country known for a canal
필리핀 Asian country that's an archipelago
포르투갈 European country

Now try to write the following, always using the letter Pieup. Don't worry if you transliterate some of these words differently than Koreans do, they are not obvious:

La Paz
Paris (final letter is i)
São Paolo

The last aspirated letter that you haven't met yet is Chieut:

Chieut looks like Jieut with an extra horizontal line at the top, and, as you can guess, it's pronounced like an aspirated version of Jieut. It's transliterated as ch' .

Chieut is rather uncommon in foreign-derived Korean words, so here are just a few words to practice with:

칠레 country in South America
벤치 a place to rest
스포츠 카 attracts girls?
찰리 채플린 famous person
매사추세츠 state of the USA

Now write the following in the Korean alphabet:


The last item in this lesson is actually not a letter, it's a set of letters:

ㅑㅒㅕㅖㅛ ㅠ

These letters are all variations of vowels that you have already learned except they each have two short strokes instead of one. This is used to indicate that they are all pronounced with a preceding Y-sound: ya, yae, yeo, ye, yo, yu. Easy, isn't it?

More words that you can read now:

메뉴 restaurant thing
슈퍼 with suffix -market
쇼핑 allegedly women love this
뮤지컬 sung theatre play
모가디슈 capital of Somalia
유타 popular with Mormons
케냐 East African country
예멘 Arab country
예루살렘 holy city
사라예보 Balkan capital
휴스턴 NASA place
뉴질랜드 country near Australia
현대 Korean company
평양 Korean capital
뉴햄프셔 state of the USA
컴퓨터 indispensable tool

And a final few words for you to write, involving the new letters:

New York
Nova Scotia

This is it, for lesson 5. You have learned a lot in this lesson and now you are so close to being able to read everything in Korean! In fact, the only thing missing are some diphthongs and doubled letters. Both concepts are quite easy and will be taught in lesson 6. Take a break and then continue on!

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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