Geulja Geek: 아, 야, 어, 여, 오, and 요

Welcome to part 4 of our series, Geulja Geek (geulja = letter). If you haven’t read Part 1 I highly recommend starting there first. Part 1 gives context on things to look at when learning to read/write Korean as well as details that need special attention for those interested in type design.

Part 1: ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, and ㅁ
Part 2: ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㅈ, and ㅊ
Part 3: ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ,  and ㅎ
Part 4: 아, 야, 어, 여, 오, and 요

Let’s get started with this months letters: 아, 야, 어, 여, 오, and 요. You’ll notice that these letters all have ㅇ in front first. This is because when vowels are written a consonant is put in front to create a character block. In this case ieung is silent, creating a pure vowel sound.

Also, unlike the consonants, the vowels do not have separate names from their sounds. They are simply called by how they sound.

Hangul Character: 
Character Name: A
Pronunciation: Ah sound

This letter is pronounced like the letter a. It is more similar to a soft ah than a harsh a. I like to think of it as a British a sound rather than an American a sound. Think about the contrast between the two accents with words like hammer, laugh, and pat. When this letter was first created it was influenced by the ying and yang. Specifically, the circles in the ying and yang influenced the form of the vowel letters. This is why the vowels were originally written with lines and dots. However, the letterforms have since evolved the the dots became strokes.
Geulja Geek - a

Hangul Character:
Character Name: Ya
Pronunciation: Yah sound

There is a special exception for the y sound in Korean. Y is part of the vowel rather than a separate consonant.
Geulja Geek - ya

Hangul Character: ㅓ
Character Name: Eo
Pronunciation: Eo / U sound

Unlike the traditional o sound in English, eo makes a sound in between o and u. It’s like the initial sound in the word upper or the o sound in bone or both. It is not like the o in open or the u in super.
Geulja Geek - eo

Hangul Character:
Character Name: Yeo
Pronunciation: Yeo / Yu sound

Like the eo/u sound but with a y in front. Similar to the sound in the world yolk, but not like yuck or yoh.
Geulja Geek - yeo

Hangul Character:
Character Name: O
Pronunciation: O sound

This letter makes the traditional o sound. Door, phone, and so all make the o sound.
Geulja Geek - o

Hangul Character:
Character Name: Yo
Pronunciation: Yo sound

The traditional o sound with a y in front.
Geulja Geek - yo

Vowels are so simple they may be confusing at first. Do you have any tips to help remember the differences? Share with us by commenting below!

Part 1: ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, and ㅁ
Part 2: ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㅈ, and ㅊ
Part 3: ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ,  and ㅎ
Part 4: 아, 야, 어, 여, 오, and 요

Typefaces used:
Gothic (top): Nanum Gothic
Gothis (bottom): Dohyeon
Myeongjo: Un Batang
Modern: Shin Graphic
Handwritten: Nanum Songulshi
Original: Heumjeonguem

  • Kemala Hayati

    Hi i dunno you will read my comment or no, but still… please write the whole hangul handwriting, because i think you hadnt post all of them yet like wa etc? Thankss in advance