Sound Change: What happens when ㄱ, ㅋ, and ㄲ are followed by ㄴ or ㅁ

Sound Change: What happens when ㄱ, ㅋ, and ㄲ are followed by ㄴ or ㅁ


Let’s learn the sound change rule for ㄱ [g/k], ㅋ [k], and ㄲ [gg/kk], one of the most important skills in developing a native accent.

This pronunciation change comes from nasalization. Nasalization is a phonological change in which a sound assimilates to a neighboring nasal sound.

In this post, we take the case of ㄱ [g/k], ㅋ [k], or ㄲ [gg/kk] used as a final consonant.ㄱ [g/k], ㅋ [k], and ㄲ [gg/kk] are stop consonants, formed by stopping the flow of air through the mouth. When they come before ㄴ [n] or ㅁ [m], which are nasal consonants produced with the nose, then ㄱ [g/k], ㅋ [k], ㄲ [gg/kk] are pronounced like ㅇ [ng].

Does this rule seem arbitrary? If so, try saying the 12 phrases below at least three times, fast, keeping the true pronunciation of ㄱ [g/k]. You’ll see how your mouth just wants to turn it into ㅇ [ng]. With practice, you’ll get the hang of the rule and realize the greater ease of pronunciation.


1. ㄱ + ㄴ → ㅇ + ㄴ

작년[장년] [jangnyeon]last year
학년[항년] [hangnyeon]school year, grade
숙녀[숭녀] [sungnyeo]lady


2. ㄲ + ㄴ → ㅇ + ㄴ

묶는다[뭉는다] [mungneunda]to tie
꺾는다[껑는다] [kkeongneunda]to break
먹는다[멍는다] [meongneunda]to eat


3. ㄱ + ㅁ → ㅇ + ㅁ

국물[궁물] [gungmul]broth
농작물[농장물] [nongjangmul]crop
한국말[한궁말] [hangungmal]Korean language
중국말[중궁말] [junggungmal]Chinese language
목마르다[몽마르다] [mongmareuda]thirsty
백만[뱅만] [bengman]1,000,000


4. ㅋ + ㅁ → ㅇ + ㅁ

부엌만[부엉만] [bueongman]kitchen only
해 뜰 녘만[해 뜰 녕만] [he tteul nyeongman]sunrise only
해 질 녘만[해 질 녕만] [he jil nyeongman]sunset only


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  1. Jaehoon Yeon, Lucien Brown. Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar (Routledge Comprehensive Grammars). 1st ed. Routledge; 2011.
  2. Danielle Ooyoung Pyun. Colloquial Korean: The Complete Course For Beginners. Routledge; 2009.
  3. Henry J. Amen, Kyubyong Park. Korean For Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean. Tuttle Publishing; 2010.