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Hangul

Korean alphabet
(Chosŏn'gŭl or Hangul)
Chosungul or Hangul logo (New Type) at (Black Design).svg
The top reads Chosŏn'gŭl; the bottom, Hangul
Type
Alphabet
Languages Korean
Creator The court of King Sejong the Great
Time period
1443 to the present
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Hang, 286
Unicode alias
Hangul
Hangul
South Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanization Han(-)geul
McCune–Reischauer Han'gŭl
Chosŏn'gŭl
North Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl
Hancha
Revised Romanization Joseon(-)geul
McCune–Reischauer Chosŏn'gŭl
Simple Aspirated Tense
palatal
velar
coronal
bilabial
fricatives
Simple Iotized

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul in South Korea (also transcribed Hangeul) and as Chosŏn'gŭl/Chosŏn Muntcha in North Korea is the alphabet that has been used to write the Korean language since the 15th century. It was created during the Joseon Dynasty in 1443 by King Sejong the Great. Now, the alphabet is the official script of both South Korea and North Korea, and co-official in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of China's Jilin Province. In South Korea, Hangul is used primarily to write the Korean language as using Hanja (Chinese characters) in typical Korean writing had fallen out of common usage during the late 1990s.

In its classical and modern forms, the alphabet has 19 consonant and 21 vowel letters. However, instead of being written sequentially like the letters of the Latin alphabet, Hangul letters are grouped into blocks, such as han, each of which transcribes a syllable. That is, although the syllable han may look like a single character, it is actually composed of three letters: h, a, and n. Each syllabic block consists of two to six letters, including at least one consonant and one vowel. These blocks are then arranged horizontally from left to right or vertically from top to bottom. Each Korean word consists of one or more syllables, hence one or more blocks. The number of mathematically possible distinct blocks is 11,172, though there are far fewer possible syllables allowed by Korean phonotactics, and not all phonotactically possible syllables occur in actual Korean words. Of the 11,172 possible Hangul syllables, the most frequent 256 have a cumulative frequency of 88.2%; with the top 512, it reaches 99.9%.


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