LearnKoreanwith Us!

Start Learning!

Korean Language Blog

The Scientific and Phonetic Korean Script, 한글(Hangeul): Consonants #2 Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Grammar, History, Korean Language

Do you know why 한글  is considered a highly phonetic and scientific writing systems? You will have a good understanding after reading the following explanation of Korean consonants and their sounds.

Last week I introduced the brief history of  한글, and how to form syllables in Korean. This post will cover more detailed information about the 19 Korean consonants, including the creation process, names, and sounds.

The Korean consonant system can be categorized by the three following characteristics. This way you can easily understand the systemic characteristics of Korean consonants.

The Basic Consonants

Interestingly, the five basic letters, ㄱㄴㅁㅅㅇare shaped after the vocal organs that are used to articulate each sound.


  • : the shape of the tongue when it touches the velum in the back of the mouth
  • : the shape of the tongue when the tip of it touches the alveolar
  • : the shape of the mouth
  • : the shape of the teeth
  • : the shape of the throat

Structural Expansion from the Basic Consonants

The nine consonants, ㅋㄷㅌㅂㅍㅈㅊㅎㄹ, are based on the five basic consonants above. By adding additional strokes to ㄱㄴㅁㅅㅇ, the following letters were created.

  • ㄱ  →  ㅋ
  • ㄴ  →  ㄷ /   ㅌ
  • ㅁ  →  ㅂ / ㅍ
  • ㅅ  →  ㅈ / ㅊ
  • ㅇ  →  ㅎ

Expansion of the sound: Tensed Sounds

The following are five more consonants that were created by putting the same letters together to produce hard sounds.

  • ㄱ  →  ㄲ
  • ㄷ  →  ㄸ
  • ㅂ  →  ㅃ
  • ㅅ  → ㅆ
  • ㅈ  →  ㅉ

Now try and learn the name and sound of each letter. However, it is important to note that the sounds of the Korean letters do not perfectly match with English sounds. I added the closest sound values in English to help your understanding. Please listen to the audio file in order to study the accurate sounds of each consonant.

Consonants Names Sounds

in Korean


in English

1 기역 (giyeok) g
2 니은 (nieun) n
3 디귿 (digeut) d
4 리을 (rieul) l (between r and l)
5 미음 (mieum) m
6 비읍 (bieup) b
7 시옷 (siot) s
8 이응 (ieung) * no sound or -ng
9 지읒 (jieut) j
10 치읓 (chieut) ch
11 키읔 (kieuk) k
12 티읕 (tieut) t
13 피읖 (pieub) p
14 히읗 (hieut) h
15 쌍기역 (ssang giyeok) gg
16 쌍디귿 (ssang digeut) dd
17 쌍비읍 (ssang bieup) bb
18 쌍시옷(ssang siot) ss
19 쌍지읒 (ssang jieut) jj

* When is the initial consonant of C (consonant) + V (vowel) combination, it acts as a silent place holder for the vowels.

ex) (“a” as in “ah”) : (no sound) + (a)

* When ㅇ is in the final consonant place of  C (consonant) + V (vowel) + C (consonant) combination, it takes an “-ng” sound.

ex) (bang) : (b) +(a) + (ng)

If you are interested in practicing each consonant and related vocabulary, please click the following link.


Aren’t you thankful to King Sejong who carefully formed the five basic consonants and produced the other consonants by adding different elements to the basic ones? I am truly amazed with his and his scholars’ linguistic knowledge back in the 1400s. I hope the above explanation and audio file will help you to become familiar with the Korean consonants.

감사합니다! (Thank you!)

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Share this:
Pin it

About the Author:Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...