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Senior Member
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 Message 9 of 35
04 August 2005 at 4:19pm | IP Logged 
Is reading and writing Korean easier than Japanese. From the samples of each language that I have, Japanese seems to use Kanji far more than Korean uses Hanja.

Although I've also haerd that speaking is harder. What makes this so?
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 Message 10 of 35
04 August 2005 at 7:31pm | IP Logged 
I can only comment on reading and writing (I don't have experience with spoken Japanese).

Reading and writing in Korean: to learn Hangul only takes a day or two, where as Japanese Katakana and Hiragana takes a bit longer (probably because there are more to remember) ...also, from what I can gather, Kanji is a modified Chinese charater (although simplified from traditional characters) ...where as Hanja are traditional characters. So, if you already know Chinese, then Hanja would be easier than Kanji... but if you know neither, Hanja is probably slightly harder than Kanji (more strokes as a general rule)
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 Message 11 of 35
04 August 2005 at 9:33pm | IP Logged 
If you are learning Chinese with simplified characters, really, they will be at the same difficulty. With traditional characters, maybe you will learn the Korean set faster, but it's not the characters themselves that take time, it's the pronunciation.

I am sure some of forum members here who are learning an East Asian language can testify, the fewer strokes doesn't make the character a lot easier to learn.

As for Hangul being easier to learn - it's subjective really. In Japanese you don't need to learn how to put the "parts" together to form sounds. The 80-90 hirgana and katakana can easily be learned in a week, just like Hangul.
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 Message 12 of 35
31 August 2005 at 3:16am | IP Logged 
Maybe it's not essential for you to write in Hanja when you learn Korean, but I think it is quite essential that you can at least "recognize" them. Otherwise, how would you distinguish the 9 different "jeon-gi", which look identical in Hangeul? Same problem with Japanese, but at least their Kanji are in everyday use......with Korean reducing the usage of Hanja, some people might misinterpret that as "Hanja is no longer important".

Edited by epingchris on 31 August 2005 at 3:18am

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 Message 13 of 35
02 March 2007 at 12:01pm | IP Logged 
Ardaschir wrote:
While you do not need to know Chinese characters for basic literacy in Korean, you simply MUST know them to make any progress in vocabulary acqusition beyond the beginner's level.

I will disagree. Yes, hanja (Sino-Korean characters) will help in the acquisition of vocabulary. Hanja is to Korean as Latin is to English. Every hanja has its own meaning. But one Korean character can be associated with several hanja. So you need to determine which hanja the character represents. For example 미 can be represented by more than one character, but does it mean beauty or something else? It all goes back to context. You can learn a lot of words from context alone.

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 Message 14 of 35
03 March 2007 at 11:49pm | IP Logged 
I think the main difficulty with Korean really is a lack of good learning materials. I have the entire Ganada Korean textbook volumes and they are a pretty comprehensive guide on Korean grammar. Despite covering the grammar thoroughly, the books don't cover the Hanjas at all.

Most of the Korean learning materials for foreigners don't cover the Hanjas. And one of the challenges of learning Hanjas is that the Hanjas are really not used as much as they were in the past. In Newspapers, the only place to see the Hanjas are in the Newspaper headlines. The Newspapers today are 99 percent hangul script and maybe 1 percent hanja.
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 Message 15 of 35
04 March 2007 at 2:45am | IP Logged 
If you did want to study Hanja, the best book I have found is "A Guide to Korean Characters" by Bruce Grant. Published by Hollym and costs around 15000 Won in Seoul.
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 Message 16 of 35
09 March 2007 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
If you read German, there's an newer version of the Grant book; it also includes Korean proverbs.

Beckers-Kim, Y. & Hetzer, H. (2002) Hanja: Handbuch und Lexikon der sinokoreanischen Schriftzeichen, Seoul, Hollym. ISBN: 8970943323

Saying this, there are some silly (minor) mistakes in the book...

The other book you might be interested in is the Korean Vocabulary Handbook. I found this book quite useful to understand vocabulary, and thus learn words. Interestingly, you can also use it without looking at the Hanja, if they scare you.

Choo, M. & O'Grady, W. (1996) Handbook of Korean Vocabulary: An Approach to Word Recognition and Comprehension, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. ISBN: 0824818156

As for the easy alphabet, most books go along with the 'official' line and pretend that Hangul is very easy and very logical. That's only part of the story, and you will have to master assimilation etc. one day if you really want to learn Korean. The following book can help with that. As with the Vocabulary Handbook, I thought the Pronunciation book helped me understand things I have picked up but never really understood.

Choo, M. & O'Grady, W. (2003) The Sounds of Korean: A Pronunciation Guide, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. ISBN: 9780824826017

This all brings me to Ardaschir's book. It's the only book I've seen where Hanja are introduced from the beginning. It also teaches about the exceptions to the generally regular pronunciation of Hangul. The Pronunciation book I cited will go into greater detail, though. There are other aspects of the book I'm not entirely convinced; and there is (currently) only a beginners volume. See this thread for further comments.

Argüelles, A. & Kim, J. (2000) A Historical Literary and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language, Seoul, Hollym. ISBN: 1565911512

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