Home > Korean Lessons, Language Lessons > How To: Learn & Type the Korean Keyboard Layout

How To: Learn & Type the Korean Keyboard Layout

jalSetting up Korean input is greatNow what?

Any language’s script that doesn’t work exactly like the Latin alphabet you’re used to will present a tiny challenge when you learn to type it. Even in French- and Spanish-speaking countries, you may be surprised to find the keyboard layout slightly different!

While you must get used to character conversion when typing in Chinese or Japanese, it’s still relatively easy because the keyboard layout is virtually the same, and you type romanization: pinyin and roumaji respectively. Korean, however, DOES use an alphabet, so Korean letters, rather than Latin letters, are placed on the keyboard. That means you will have to learn where all the letters are.

Korean layout

Most common Korean keyboard layout

As I’ve mentioned in other topics, mnemonics is a great way to learn anything that could use the benefit of associations. Let me reinforce this point: don’t be afraid of the word mnemonics. The concept of mnemonics is simply: association: to connect something (usually more familiar) to what you’re trying to remember. It becomes easier to remember due to that familiarity, or because it makes a little piece of data “bigger,” and thus more “important” to your brain.

If you’re trying to remember a phone number that ends in 8125, you might think “ate (8) a (1) quarter (25 cents)” to remember it; that’s a mnemonic. If you remember the Korean letter ㅣis on the letter L because it looks like the lowercase L, then that’s a mnemonic.

So, that’s all you have to do! I encourage you to create your own mnemonics, but to be honest, it’s a little bit of creative work and sometimes you wish you could easily find someone else’s to see if it’s good enough for you – especially if you just can’t come up with something for all of them. I myself couldn’t, which is why I had to make up a few for the list below. Well then, here is my list:

Mnemonic List for Korean Keyboard Layout

  • – Q: I have no idea. I just learned it without any help. Maybe, Q is at the Beginning of the keyboard?
  • – W: Just Wondering (the way I actually remembered it was lame: I imagined the middle peak of W hitting a ceiling).
  • – E: It’s the letter E without the middle line!
  • – R: It’s like a reversed lowercase r.
  • – T : T for teeth, since ㅅ is a picture of your front teeth as seen from the side.
  • – A: You should already know ㅁ represents the mouth (or know that’s also like the Chinese character for mouth), so say Aaaaah!
  • – S:  I just learned this by feel since I always hit it with the same finger.* How about, Never Ending Story? That was a decent Korean movie. ^^
  • – D: The D is also a circle-ish shape – or half-circle. Whatever.
  • – F: Funky-looking. I guess the letter F is also kind of Funky.
  • ㅎ – G: It you put the curve of the left-half of the G onto ㅎ, I think it will kind of look like a G, or an upside down lowercase g. Either way, they’re both bottom-heavy.
  • – Z: You may have seen Koreans type “zzzzz;” they really mean “ㅋㅋㅋㅋ“, sometimes seen as “kekekeke,” which is a laughing sound.
  •  – X: “E” (ㅌ) for eXtra!
  • – C: Because this is the “Ch” sound! C in Cello! Fettuccine!
  • – V: Both ㅍ and V look like roman numerals, don’t they?
  • – Y: “Yo” is on the letter Y. Easy! It’s also right above !
  • – U: It’s right above !
  • – I: It’s right above !
  • – O: Balanced shape, just like O.
  • – P: Unbalanced shape, just like P.
  • – H: “Half is the Hat!” (A mnemonics some of you might already know for musical notation.)
  • – J: Both letters have a straight wall on the right, and a thingy to the left.
  • – K: Both letters have a straight wall on the left, and a thingy to the right.
  • – L: Looks like a lowercase L.
  • – B: It’s right next to ㅜ. However, you can also think of how it looks like TT which is a shortened emoticon of a face with tears streaming down (T.T / T_T), so the person is crying () because he was beaten at a game? (The way I actually remembered it was a stretch: a letter B that fell to the right, but it uses two little lines to represent the B’s bulges.)
  • – N: Looks like a letter t as in Tina. And /or it’s pointing nose-down, going for a nose dive,
  • – M: Both letters kind of sound like humming or a sound you make while thinking.
  • SHIFT– on corresponding letters: Gives you the remaining letters: ㅃㅉㄸㄲㅆㅒ, and ㅖ.

Again, you should only use this as a guide for when you need some help. Making your own mnemonics is best, and you shouldn’t be making extra effort learning my personal set if you don’t need to. Without thinking, you will probably learn a few from straight-up / brute-force memorization anyway.

Hopes this helps you learn to type Korean. Now practice typing whatever you’ve learned!

““““““““““““““““`

*In addition, if you use a standard typing position, or begin using one / make up one for your Korean typing, you will associate some letters by feel, rather than which Latin letter is on it.

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  1. 2013/10/24 at 05:11

    Very useful! Thank you for sharing your mnemonics. :)

    Like

    • 2013/10/24 at 10:45

      Glad to hear it! I saw your Twitter share as well. If it helps someone, I’m happy. :) Note that for anyone still learning the alphabet, I have my own over-extensive guide. Like my keyboard post, I recommend this as a reference, not so much as an actual lesson set, although it could be used that way: Learning Korean Alphabet Part 0 – intro.

      J’ai vu vous étudiez aussi le japonais, donc je veux vous dire que j’ai un section appellent ‹‹Japanese Resources››. J’espère qu’ils vous aideraient et dîtes-moi si vous avez des recommandations pour ajouter à ma page!

      Like

      • 2013/10/24 at 23:05

        Merci! Je prendrais soin de visiter votre blog avec plus d’attention. Je suis contente d’avoir trouvé un site comme le vôtre.

        Like

  2. Stephan
    2014/04/24 at 08:33

    I like this very much but something i can not find is how to write the korean “w” like “kwa” which is the korean word for and?

    Like

    • 2014/04/29 at 19:47

      Make sure you understand Hangul first! The W does not exist in Korean as one letter. Were you ever taught that W is kind of like a vowel in English? That’s why it gets used in Korean, but the actual sound is a ㅡ, ㅗ, or ㅜ as part of a compound vowel/letter. So, assuming you were writing in RR, your example of “kwa” would be ㅋ + ㅗ + ㅏ = 콰.

      However, and pointing out yet again the importance of understanding Hangul itself instead of trying to transliterate, since you said you meant the word “and,” it’s actually 과; the first letter is what RR would transliterate as “g,” not “k.” Thanks to 조제미 in a later comment for pointing out that I didn’t realize you were talking about “and.”

      Like

      • Len
        2016/01/17 at 20:05

        This is the top search result for: “w diphthongs hangul keyboard”. So maybe you should revise the article to cover that.

        Like

        • 2017/02/11 at 18:09

          I’ve had a lot going in my life recently so I’ve been out of this for a while, but thanks for pointing this out, I will definitely come and update this in the future, as soon as I can!

          Like

    • 조제미
      2016/09/08 at 21:57

      Korean letter for ‘and’ is 과 not 콰, just passing by. :)

      Like

      • 2017/02/11 at 17:57

        Oh my gosh, what a silly oversight on my part! Thank you for pointing it out! I was just putting letters together, I wasn’t thinking about the actual word. I’ve corrected it, thanks again.

        Like

  3. Casey
    2015/03/16 at 23:50

    Instead of a mnemonic for each letter, wouldn’t it make sense to stop and look at the layout? All consonants are typed with your left hand. All vowels are typed with your right. All the top-row consonants can be tensed; all the bottom row consonants are aspirated. The middle is everything else. With vowels, the top row is entirely diphthongs (one ends up on the bottom because there’s not enough space, I guess). The bottom row is u/eu sounds. The middle is other stuff.

    Like

    • 2015/03/19 at 18:26

      Thank you! I am well aware of this but it completely slipped my mind when I wrote this article and basically every single time I’ve looked at this!

      I still needed mnemonics to remember the exact keys, and know other people also need them, but you’re right that everyone should first start with understanding the overall layout. I will update the post very soon and will mention you and include this.

      Thanks for reading, and let the comments flow free!

      Like

  4. Yusupov S
    2016/01/15 at 10:34

    Thank you so much! Now I can type Korean without even watching at the keyboard! I am amazed at how mnemonics can help us to learn things!

    Like

    • 2017/02/11 at 18:07

      Most definitely! It makes me really happy to hear this worked for you like that! It’s exactly how it worked for me and how I hope it helps people!

      Like

  5. Collin
    2016/06/13 at 04:05

    Thank you so much. Really thank you so so much. How many times can I thank you to demonstrate my gratitude for your help.

    Like

  6. kenz
    2016/11/30 at 06:53

    How do you make this on a Korean keyboard 개 That sign that looks like a J not the other one,

    Like

    • 2017/02/11 at 18:06

      Sorry for the late reply, I hope you found the answer. I need to rework my emails and how I get notifications so I don’t miss things – I’ve already been working on some huge digital reorganization.

      So you mean the first letter in 개? That’s just ㄱ. You can draw the vertical part as a straight line or a curve, as you see in 개, so it will vary by font.

      Like

  7. plunder
    2017/05/30 at 18:07

    Let’s share our own mnemonics! For the left-hand top row i use “Bei-jing Des Ge-setzes”, middle row “My N-o Left Hand”, bottom row “Kein Thai-chi Por You!”. These are almost senseless phrases per se but oh well. For the English layout i don’t have any mnemonics, i just learned the position of each key by heart, directly.

    Like

    • 2017/07/05 at 21:36

      Haha, thanks for posting those! I like that. My mnemoics are for individual letters since they’re really meant for any I had – or others may have had – trouble with, but your idea works great for people just starting out, since you’re taking multiple letters and putting them in a single mnenomic, just like ROY-G-BIV for the colors of the rainbow. You can reduce the keyboard to only 6 mnemonics.

      So, do you have any for the vowels?

      Like

  8. plunder
    2017/07/06 at 09:22

    Thanks for your comment! My mnemonics are much less to learn by heart and less complex, less complicated imho since it cancels all correlation with the Western alphabet. Unfortunately i didn’t succeed in coming up with anything for the vowels. Luckily there are not so many and one can just cram them by drill; similarly i don’t have any mnemonics for the QWERTY layout either. Please let us know if you have/know any really recommendable FREE online website for beginner’s practicing of Hangul typing. 3yrs ago there was kidtaja.co.kr and kids.daum.net, both were simple, free and useful. Now the sites are gone or cost money. Typeracer is not suitable for beginners imho. Better than nothing, of course.

    Like

    • 2017/07/06 at 13:42

      QWERTY or non-QWERTY keyboard doesn’t matter since we’re talking about the KOREAN layout – a specific keyboard layout, after all. So, my mnemonics only work for QWERTY, while yours works for any because it relates directly to the KOREAN layout and not the user’s normal layout.

      I’ve never done or cared for typing practice tools, and if you want to practice typing Korean, imo, you should do it writing your own thoughts, like mini-blogging on Lang-8.com so you can also get corrections. That worked well enough for me.

      But if you want to just practice typing, a quick google led me to this:
      https://10fastfingers.com/text-practice/new

      You can filter by language.

      Like

  1. 2016/03/09 at 00:35

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