Does anyone know where can I find Korean alphabet which tells if a vowel or consonant is voiced or unvoiced, aspirated or not? Thanks.

1 Answer 1


I can tell you right now.

(Always) Voiced: all vowels, ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅇ(final), ㄹ

(Conditionally) Voiceless: ㄱ, ㄲ, ㄷ, ㄸ, ㅂ, ㅃ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅉ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ

(Strongly) Aspirated: ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅅ, ㅊ, ㅎ

Not (strongly) aspirated: ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ

Not aspirated: ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ

Note that Korean doesn't really phonemically contrast voicing, so it's not weird if a voiced consonant comes out voiceless, or vice versa. It happens all the time.

Asking if a Korean stop consonant is voiced or not is akin to asking if English /p/ is aspirated or not. It is sometimes, and it is sometimes not. For example, "pin" is usually aspirated, but "spin" is usually not. So is English /p/ aspirated? Yes and no. Is Korean ㅂ voiced? Yes and no.

Refer to the wikipedia for more info about Korean phonology.

  • Thank you very much. I am aslo having problem with 요 sound. I pronounced it as "jo" sound but my Korean friend said that it is wrong. Could you explain it more?
    – emnha
    Feb 26, 2017 at 15:15
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    @anhnha I assume you're a native English speaker. If my assumption is correct, chances are you're pronouncing ㅗ as English /oʊ/("boat" vowel) which is close to [əʊ] actually. Korean /o/ is a monophthong, and your tongue and lips should not move while articulating the vowel.
    – MujjinGun
    Feb 26, 2017 at 15:27
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    Okay, you should only put IPA in slashes, otherwise it gets confusing because in IPA /j/ and /y/ are different. If you need to refer to English orthography, use angle brackets <y> or just quotes "y". Now, ㅛ /jo/ definitely contains /j/, the "y" sound in "yes". Maybe your friend just doesn't understand IPA and the /j/ sound.
    – MujjinGun
    Feb 26, 2017 at 16:55
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    @anhnha If you speak Vietnamese natively, perhaps your 요 has too much diphthongisation anyway, and is probably too open. E.g. Vietnamese in many people's speech is pronounced [kɔo̯], which is different from 고 [ko ~ ku], a lot tighter. In fact, Vietnamese may sound more like 거 to Korean ears.
    – Michaelyus
    Feb 28, 2017 at 11:46
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    @anhnha It is similar to /i/, except /j/ is an approximant version of the vowel /i/. /j/ is to /i/ as /w/ is to /u/.
    – MujjinGun
    Feb 28, 2017 at 23:20

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