The Most Frequently Used Chinese Characters (Hanja) in Korean


 

Check out the TED Talks above, first!

8 Chinese characters ShaoLan is explaining are also commonly used in Korean. I just wrote down the Hangeul (Hangul) with the meaning of Hanja (Chinese character) in the image below for you guys.

Hanja_한자_Korean

Reading Hanja (Chinese characters) is more like viewing pictures than actually reading words/letters. I’m pretty sure this video clip could be a fascinating introduction to the Chinese characters!

According to the Standard Korean Dictionary (표준국어대사전) published by the National Institute of the Korean Language (국립국어원), Hanja (한자) makes up about 60% of the Korean vocabulary. In the past, Korean used to use Chinese characters all the time. However, Korean now uses its own writing system, Hangeul (한글). But if you’re coming to Korea, there are still some Chinese characters you will often see in many places.

Today, let’s start learning the most commonly used Chinese characters in Korean!

 

①  大  vs  中  vs  小

Hanja

Korean

Meaning

대 [de]

Large

중 [jung]

Medium

소 [so]

Small

 

大 = 대 = Big

中 = 중 = Middle

小 = 소 = Small

大학교 [dehakgyo]

university

中학교 [junghakgyo]

middle school

小규모 [degyumo]

small scale

大통령 [detonglyeong]

president

中앙 [jung-ang]

the center

小인 [soin]

a child

확大하다 [hwakdehada]

to expand

中급 [junggeup]

intermediate

축小하다 [chukahada]

to minimize

 

These three simple Chinese characters are commonly used to distinguish between different sizes of items in Korean restaurants or supermarkets.

Hanja_한자_대중소(Korean)

 

②  男  vs  女

Hanja

Korean

Meaning

남 [nam]

male

여 [yeo]

female

 

男 = 남 = Male

女 = 여 = Female

男자 [namja]

a man

女자 [yeoja]

a woman

男학생 [namhakseng]

a schoolboy

女학생 [yeohakseng]

a schoolgirl

These two Chinese characters are also found commonly in Korea, usually on the bathroom door.

Hanja_한자_남여(Korean)

 

③  人

Hanja

Korean

Meaning

인 [in]

person

 

人 = 인 = person

개人 [gein]

individual

외국人 [wegugin]

a foreigner

人구 [ingu]

population

人권 [ingwon]

human rights

 

Hanja_한자_인(Korean)

④  山

Hanja

Korean

Meaning

산 [san]

mountain

 

山 = 산 = Mountain

등山 [deungsan]

hiking

설악山 [seo-laksan]

Seolak mountain

북한山 [bukansan]

Bukhan mountain

 

Hanja_한자_산(Korean)

⑤  門

Hanja

Korean

Meaning

문 [mun]

door

 

門 = 문 = Door

창門 [changmun]

Window

동대門 [dongdemun]

Dongdamun

(Great Eastern Gate of Seoul)

남대門 [namdemun]

Namdaemun

(Great Southern Gate of Seoul)

 

Hanja_한자_문(Korean)

 

Reference :

  1. Park K, Amen H, Padrón A. Korean For Beginners.
  2. Sino-Korean vocabulary. 2015. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Korean_vocabulary. Accessed September 30, 2015.
  3. YouTube. ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese … with ease!. 2015. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=troxvPRmZm8. Accessed September 30, 2015.