Script Basics: Hangul

Korean is primarily written in a phonetic based syllabic alphabet called Hangul (한글) which was invented in the 1440s to replace older writing systems based on the Chinese script.

Each symbol in Hangul is a actually a composite which includes a consonant and following vowel and additional sounds. See the links below for more information on Hangul.

For instance "han" is a combination of "h" on the top, "a" on the side and "l" on the bottom. Similarly is a combination of "g" + "u" + "l" from top to bottom.

Hangul Links

Like other syllabaries, Hangul has a relatively large inventory of individual characters corresponding to possible consonant plus vowel combinations. In addition, slightly under 2,000 Chinese characters are still used to some extent, so encoding systems must include these as well.


When Korean is transliterated to the Western alphabet, it is called Romaja and is similar to Japanese Romāji.

Test Site

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web site below should display the correct characters.

If this site is not displaying correctly, see the Browser Setup page for debugging information.

Fonts by Platform

Both Windows and Mac (and mobile platforms) provide a set of Korean fonts, but more decorative versions may be found through font vendors or font download sites.

  • Windows – Batang, BatangChe, Malgun Gothic (Vista+)
  • Mac OS X – Apple Gothic, #Gungseouche, #HeadlineA, #PCMyoungjo, #Pilgiche, Apple Myungjo, others


Activating Keyboards for Typing

In Windows, Macintosh/iOS and Droid, input options for all the Korean scripts are available. See the links below for more information.



The Mac supports severs Romaja options which maps characters closer to a Western QWERTY keyboard. However more advanced learners may need the capabilities of a native Korean IME like 2-Set.


You can also view generic documentation for

Typing the Won Currency Sign (₩)

If you are not familiar with any of the Korean keyboard utilities, you may use the steps below to insert the Won. Below are the codes for typing a Won currency sign in different platforms.

Codes for Won Symbol
Platform Description
Windows Within Microsoft Office, you can input Alt+8361. If this code does not work, then use the Character Map (the character is in the Currency block). If neccessary, switch the font to a Korean font or Arial Unicode MS.
Macintosh Activate the Unicode Hex Input keyboard, then input Option+20A9. The font may switch to a Korean font or Lucida Grande.
HTML Use the code ₩ or &#8361 to insert a Won
symbol. See details on the Unicode Entity code

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Long Vowels (Macrons) and Short Vowels (Breves)

When Korean is transliterated into English, long marks and short marks are used in the writing system. These can be written in one of several ways depending on the operating system.

Microsoft Word ALT Codes

Note: These code work only in Microsoft Word

Word ALT Codes for long vowels

Capital Vowels
Vwl ALT Code
Ā ALT+0256
Cap long A
Ē ALT+0274
Cap long E
Ī ALT+0298
Cap long I
Ō ALT+0332
Cap long O
Ū ALT+0362
Cap long U
Lower Vowels
Vwl ALT Code
ā ALT+0257
Lower long A
ē ALT+0275
Lower long E
ī ALT+0299
Lower long I
ō ALT+0333
Lower long O
ū ALT+0363
Lower long U


Word ALT Codes for short vowels

Capital Vowels
Vwl ALT Code
Ă ALT+0258
Cap short A
Ĕ ALT+0276
Cap short E
Ĭ ALT+0300
Cap short I
Ŏ ALT+0334
Cap short O
Ŭ ALT+0364
Cap short U
Lower Vowels
Vwl ALT Codes
ă ALT+0259
Lower short A
ĕ ALT+0277
Lower short E
ĭ ALT+0301
Lower short I
ŏ ALT+0335
Lower short O
ŭ ALT+0365
Lower short U


Notes on the Codes

  • These work only in Microsoft Word
  • You must use the numeric keypad. More detailed instructions about typing accents with ALT keys are available. 
  • The font in your document must be set to one that includes these characters.
  • If this is not available, you can use the Character Map to insert the characters in a master document, then cut and paste as needed.

Macintosh OS X Extended Keyboard

For Unicode Compliant Applications, you can activate ABC/U.S. Extended keyboard to type the long marks.

Mac Extended Accent Codes
Macron ā, Ā Option+A, V
Breve ă, Ă Option+B,V

For example, to insert lowercase short ă, you would type Option+B, then A.

Web Development

This section presents information specific to Korean. For general information about developing non-English Web sites, see the Encoding Tutorial or the Web Layout sections.

Historical Encodings

Unicode (utf-8) is the preferred encoding for Web sites. However, the following historic encodings may still be encountered.

  • euc-kr

Language Tags

Language Tags allow browsers and other software to process text more efficiently.

  • Language Code: ko (not "kr" for Korea)


Korean Computing





Korean Script

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