The Korean language has a relatively large number of speakers. Counting the 50 million people in South Korea and the 24 million in North Korea, the population of Korean today is 74 million. Korean is also spoken in overseas Korean communities, especially in China, North America, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. (Sang-Oak Lee, 2008, p.21).
Korean alphabet is comprised by 40 letters, traditionally divided into groups of 10 basic and 11 compound vowels and 14 basic (10 plain and 4 aspired) and 5 double consonants. The Korean alphabet is systematic and simple. At first sight, the only letter that might seem to have two completely different functions is the “ㅇ”(이응 yieung). Occuring in its own right in final positions, it is a nasal consonants. When vowel occurs as the first element inn a phonetic unit, Korean writing tradition requires that this same grapheme “ㅇ” be written before the vowel, but in this position it is completely without phonetic value. Korean consonants have names, but the vowels are referred to only by their pronunciation. (Arguelles and Kim, 2000, p.15)
The Korean alphabet must be written with consonant and vowel. Consonant must be in the first sound position (초성 chosung) and the last sound position (종성 jongsung) of syllable, while vowel placed in the middle sound position (중성 jongsung). This is how consonat dan vowel become one syllable :
a. ㅇ + ㅏ = 아 a
Consonant ㅇ add vowel ㅏ become 아 a
b. ㄱ + ㅜ = 구 gu
Plain consonant ㄱ add vowel ㅜ become 구 gu
c. ㄱ + ㅜ + ㄱ = 국 guk
Plain consonant ㄱ add vowel ㅜ add last consonant ㄱ become 국 guk
Korean contrasts structurally with European language like English in a number of ways. In language like English, the basic syntactic structure is SVO (Subject-Verb-Object), while in Korean it is SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). In other words, Korean is a verb-final language, a language in which the verb always comes at the end of the sentence.
Hangul is a perfectly transparent alphabetic system in which letters are mapped directly to sound, for example, the letter ㅏ can only be pronounced as /α/ as in 가구 /kα-ku/, meaning furniture. Likewise, the phoneme /α/ can only be spelled as the letterㅏ.
As has already been mentioned, Korean is a aggletinative language. The function a noun has in a sentence is made overt by attaching one or more particles to it, as illustrated, below. Since korean paticles are attached at the end of the end of the noun as suffixes, these gammatical elements are also known as “postpositions” ; their functions often mirror those of English prepositions.
a. 강아지-가 귀엽다. “The puppy is cute.”
Kangaji ka kwiyopda.
Puppy SUBJECT cute.
b. 강아지-를 잘 둘보아라. “Look after the puppy carefully”
Kangaji reul jal dulboara.
Puppy OBJECT well look after.
c. 강아지-에게 물을 주아라. “Give (to) the puppy (some) water”
Kangaji ege muleul jooara.
Puppy to water OBJECT give.
(Sang-Oak Lee, 2008, p.35)
Meanwhile in English, subject must followed by a verb.
a. I am (not) very happy.
SUBJECT + VERB + COMPLEMENTS.
b. I have (not) been in England before.
SUBJECT + AUXILIARY VERB + VERB + COMPLEMENTS.