I Don't Want To Be Illiterate Anymore...

So I've been in this fantastic little Asian country for just about 11 months now. My Korean language skills are pretty null and void (but to my credit, it is a rather difficult language for most foreigners). I have been able to get by as far as getting food, giving directions, and even asking for discounts and shopping for the most part. Conversation is generally where I'm lacking, and if I can impart any wisdom on some newbies it would be to take a free lesson or two.

However, if there's one area that I felt could make up for this, it would be in reading the language. Hangul is actually pretty easy to understand if you know the rules. King Sejong back in the 1600's created this very easy to read little system of symbols. If you can read it, you can speak it. Hangul isn't like Chinese where you have to memorize thousands of characters - it has roughly 24 characters that get read clockwise in each little pictograph for each syllable of a word. Every symbol basically correlates to a sound that can be found in the English language, and a lot of the time if you can read Hangul, all they've done is put an English word into the Korean writing so it helps sometimes IF the actual English letters aren't present.

Here's an example of all the consonants:

People have been known to learn this in about 2 days. I on the other hand just tend to learn it as I'm riding the subway, or staring at random buildings. I'm still a little fuzzy on some of the characters that aren't so common, but I'm getting there. It's like breaking a code that you're not meant to know, and the Koreans are so surprised and impressed if you can actually read what they're writing.

The trick is understand the word that you're reading... BUT that's for another time. Seriously, if you're thinking about coming here - its one of the best things you can do for yourself. And makes you look better ;)