[BOOK] Hangeul Master | 한글마스터

DISCLAIMER: Skip to the picture for the review. And apologies if I’ll be mixing romanizations of 한글 from Hangeul to Hangul. In the end, it should be read as 한글 anyway. ㅎㅎㅎ

After some years, I will finally be reviewing another book. My last review was posted some years ago so it’s about time to start another one. I decided to post this first rather than the other books I originally planned to review just to warm up a bit since I haven’t been writing for a long time now.

I bought this in Korea last year, some random 교보문고 visits and I can say that this book is just an impulse buy. I’m not being ‘all that’, snubbing Hangul books just because I already know how to read and write and I’m already at 중급 (intermediate level), since surprisingly, some books that are often overlooked upon can give you that basic knowledge that you may not even know of even if you’re already at the higher levels.

Some people actually get by using a language without learning how to read and write (shoutout to phrasebooks), which is not a bad thing anyway for the sake of travel comforts, but in my sphere it’s always knowing more than just the basics. I always have the itch for in-depth information about stuff so when I saw this book, I immediately picked it up.

I am honestly ‘not’ in the process of studying Korean when I was in Korea so I haven’t had any updates about new books and whatnots so this was a completely new book when I saw it. And when I’ve read from the cover that it was from Talk To Me In Korean, I had no hesitations. This was my first book from them, and it’s just fair for me to give back since I owe them about 20% of my Korean knowledge. I didn’t have any means to donate way back so buying this book would at least help them to continue spreading the love for the language, and I hope it really does! TTMIK 화이팅!!

한글마스터 | Hangeul Master
★★★★/ | 4 and a half stars

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“Go from being a novice to a Hangeul Master in a short time with this book! Hangeul Master is chock-full of everything you need to know about Hangeul!”

“Secrets of reading Korean Handwriting”

“300 writing samples from native Koreans”

To start of…

How do I buy books? (this includes English literature and novels)

  1. Design
  2. Author
  3. Price
  4. Promising content (without reading blurbs and book introductions)

1. I base on design. Yes. I believe that there’s nothing wrong in judging the books by their covers. We’ve reached the new millenium, guys please!! If authors can put their mind, heart and soul into writing a book’s content, they should be able to judge as well how the covers should look like. They’re not the designers of course but at least the publishing company should be able to match the content with the book’s physical attributes. Right??

2. Since this has been written and designed by Talk To Me In Korean, I already had the feeling that the book would be simple, easy to digest, and visually exceptional. And yes, it truly is.

3. Price is a bit ‘up there’ but then again, it’s me giving back to TTMIK so no hesitations at all, really.

4. Since this has been marketed as a book that will be able to teach you Hangul without buying any other books, that thought alone sounded very promising to me, so I didn’t bother checking the back cover for serious intro. I don’t read novel introductions as well lol. I breezed through the pages though to check how it looks like and it got JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Basically, this book met my expectations whenever buying a book so let’s hop into the review. (This is me being very defensive why I bought the book, haha.)

The book is comprised of four (4) chapters:

1. The History of 한글

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This chapter is an overview of how the language came about. Basic stuff, really. I expected more but of course, people don’t always take particular interest regarding history of certain stuff so keeping this chapter short was just practical.

nook-exampleThe chapter talked about how 한자 was used before and how The Great King Sejong came up with the writing system to replace it, and when in October 9, 1446 한글 was announced (so it became 한글날 / Hangul Day) in Korea. Also about how it wasn’t at all embraced immediately by the people due to possible relationship issues with China, and how Japanese took over Korea for some time, hence the ban of the writing system in all publications… and all that stuff.

But then I was expecting more. I was particularly interested about 훈민정음 (Hunminjeongeum) or The Correct/Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People, but it was just mentioned. Furthermore, I was also very interested about Middle Korean; What those characters were, how they were pronounced, or at least a brief overview on how they evolved. Also when was the time they totally ditched the mixed script and went on publishing in full Hangul (sans 한자). This chapter felt incomplete, knowing that the entire book focuses on 한글. Maybe it’s just me again since I just needed an in-depth info.

2. Introduction to 한글

Totally just an introduction about the vowels and consonants, stroke orders and the c+v / c+v+c / c+v+c+c syllable blocks.

3. Learn 한글

This is the main part of the book where you can learn everything about 한글, from writing, to reading, to pronunciation and all that good stuff. Please be advised that audio files are available for download through this link.

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This includes appropriate illustrations and even the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) to match the standard pronunciation. Another chapter is also dedicated to 받침 (final consonants), since pronunciation for a certain character depends on where it is placed.

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Some things that I STILL DON’T KNOW ABOUT are these compound final consonants. Without this book, I wouldn’t be able to know that there are 11 compound consonants and it’s still a good FYI especially for pronunciation since it’s baffling at first when you’re asked to read 읽다 and you don’t even know if it should be read as 일다 or 익따.

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Of course, the ever confusing linking sounds such as 좋다 [조타], 같이 [가치], 막내 [망내], 신라 [실라] and all that complex pronunciation rules are present in this book.

And of course one of the main reasons why I bought the book is…

4. 한글 Handwriting

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I am very fascinated about the writing system so I started learning how to read and write 한글 even before studying basic phrases (aside from the very basic 안녕하세요s and 감사합니다s). I honestly pushed myself to study the writing system since it’s more of like a bragging right to be able to read another language (even if I didn’t know what they meant).

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I can still remember how my writing looked like that one from above… and how it turned out to be like this…

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It’s really small, mind you but I like it just the way it is. However I still wanted to write naturally as how Koreans do so I really am trying to make an effort to mix and match the techniques from the book to come up with my own natural-looking handwriting.

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The handwriting part takes about more than 50% of the book so if you really want to try and emulate how Koreans write naturally, this book is filled with examples.

As simple as the book is, there are a lot of exercises and final exams as well. For convenience, answers can be found on the back of the book. There are also trivia like when Korean start to learn Hangeul, what are 한자s, Korean loanwoards, etc.

Will I recommend this book for first time learners?

Most definitely!!! There are a lot of amazing resources online and basic level 1 textbooks include 한글 as part of the first few lessons. But if you think you really need to be a modern 한글 master, this book is a good resource not just on how to read and pronounce, but to write in correct order and in cursive form if you challenge yourself to write as natural as possible right from the start of your studies.

Pros:

  • Very much beginner friendly. Relevant words and phrases when first learning the language for the first time are presented through examples.
  • Focuses on the Hangul writing system, the stroke order, pronunciation, and all that good stuff.
  • Supports Talk To Me In Korean (if you buy it, it will be a good help to the team).
  • The ‘only’ (please correct me here) Korean book targeted to foreigners that will teach you how to write like a Korean.

Cons:

  • More information regarding the history of 한글 particularly the Middle Korean characters that look like triangles or the triple final consonants, etc.
  • Pronunciation (I wouldn’t stress about this though, I reviewed a pronunciation book before 외국인을 위한 한국어 발음 47 | 47 Korean Pronunciation for Foreigners Book 1 and knowing that there are two books in the series, who am I to demand better pronunciation guide through this mini book?)

Conclusion

There can never be a better book in learning Hangul than this book right here. Like what I’ve said before, Hangul can easily be learned through resources online but to become a Hangul Master, this is definitely the book.

Technical facts about the book:

한글마스터 | Hangeul Master
Copyright © 2014 TalkToMeInKorean

Price: 19,000원
ISBN: 978-89-5605-719-4 (13710)

I hope this will help you on your way towards becoming a Hangul Master!

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