Korean Language Instruction

We offer two years of Korean language instruction (4 semesters) that allow students to complete their World Languages requirement in Korean. For a description of the first- and second-year courses, you can find information here. Third-Year Korean is also available for students interested in taking additional courses beyond the GE requirement.

Korean is spoken natively by around 80 million people living on the Korean peninsula and by large groups in the United States, Japan, China, and Russia as a heritage language. Because of its economic success and the spread of South Korean popular cultures, an ever-increasing number of non-Koreans worldwide are learning Korean as a foreign language.


Hangeul, The Korean Alphabet

The Korean Alphabet, Hangeul [한글] , was created by King Sejong the Great in 1446, and the first Korean alphabet was proclaimed under the name Hunminjeongeum [훈민정음, 訓民正音], which literally meant "the correct sounds for the instruction of the people." When first proclaimed by King Sejong in 1446, Hangeul had 28 letters, of which only 24 are in use today. Four letters are not being used any more. The 24 letters still in use are as follows:

Consonants (14):
ㄱ (g, k), ㄴ (n), ㄷ (d, t), ㄹ (r, l), ㅁ (m), ㅂ (b, p), ㅅ (s),
ㅇ (ng), ㅈ (j), ㅊ (ch), ㅋ (k), ㅌ (t), ㅍ (p), ㅎ (h)

Vowels (10):
ㅏ (a), ㅑ (ya), ㅓ (eo), ㅕ (yeo), ㅗ (o), ㅛ (yo), ㅜ (u), ㅠ (yu), ㅡ (eu), ㅣ (i)

Hangeul [한글], which consists of the 10 vowels and 14 consonants presented above, can be combined to form numerous syllables with initial, medial, and/or final phonemes, and to represent any sounds. It is simple yet systematic and comprehensive, and is considered one of the most scientific writing systems in the world by many linguists. Hangeul is easy to learn and type, is an important part of Korean cultural heritage, and has greatly contributed to Korea’s high literacy rate. 

According to the documentary film Hangeul, the Birth of Great Letters [한글, 위대한 문자의 탄생], produced for the Anniversary of Korean Writing Day, "For linguists, Korea is a fascinating country in two aspects. First, it was the first country to invent the printing press. In fact, the printing press was used in Korea 200 years before it was made in Gutenberg, Germany. Another aspect is Hangeul, the Korean writing system. With exceptional phonetic markings, it was created by the determination of a Korean King Sejong the Great, in the 15th century. This phenomenal system was methodically developed and represents one of the finest alphabets existing today."