I was briefly looking up how Morse code was/is used in Korean, and came across https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SKATS.

I'm slightly confused as to the reason for this system. Why would Morse code transmission have been done using a Latin-alphabet intermediate step? It seems that Morse patterns could simply be mapped directly to Hangul Jamo.

Does it relate to any time in history when Morse operators not familiar with Hangul needed to send messages in Korean?

1 Answer 1


Thank you for introducing Hangul-Morse, which I did not meet.

Nowadays, Morse code may be not a cipher. That is, the communication is important.

I did not know the principle of original Morse code and the principle of each country's Morse code.

But someone A sends Morse code through his mother tongue and any one B received that (Note that if B is familiar to Morse of his country, then receiving is easy. In my thought, that is crucial reason for intermediate step)

Then first B translates it into his mother tongue. If it has a meaning, then it is lucky. If not, then he can find correct one by comparing several country's Morse table.

[Modification] In first answer, I did not understand fully.

Reference : [1] history

[2] reference in OP.

[3] Private interpretation

[4] pronunciation

1) At the first of 19th century, Morse made code. And Korea learned from Japan at the latter of 19th century (Also, at that time, phone was invented)

Korean engineer may learn equipment for Morse from Japan but he may follow American style for Morse code.

2) There are several Morse codes : American (26 Alphabets), Continental, international (Latin), Japan (50 Alphabets) and Korea, etc.

Since Japan has 50 alphabet, so he made his own Morse code which is mixed with some of international.

3) The number of Korean alphabets is 24 which is sum of consonants and vowels.

Because American is 26, so we add two single vowels ㅔ, ㅐ so that we have 26 alphabets for Korean.

@ single vowel : ex. vowel in the word full (cf. long vowel in the word fool)

If you have a keyboard produced from Korea, then you will immediately check the correspondence, just for the number.

Hence for Hangul morse code, the simple way is a rearrangement of American.

4) Any phonetic correspondence between the Korean and Roman letters (American) would be purely coincidental.

I thought that this is crucial reason to the question : Why did not Korea make own Morse?

Hangul: (1) 김치가 맛있다.

@김치 is Korean food, pronunciation : kimchiga masitta, and meaning : The kimchi is delicious.

When we send the sentence through Hangul morse (precisely, SKATS), then we must send (2) LUM CU LE MEG KUGG BE.

That is, LUM=김 (L=ㄱ, U=ㅣ, M=ㅁ)

In the above phonetic correspondence is following : When American pronounce LUM at one time, it is similar to Korean's saying 김.

In other words, when I say (1) and (2), the sounds is different but my mouth and throat is not changed almost.

@Surely, for 김치, we write kimchi. But kimchi contains 6 alphabets.

5)Reason of phonetic correspondence : Korean is shaping : When we sound ㄱ, our mouth and throat is shaped like a figure ㄱ.

  • 1
    So if I understand you correctly, the purpose could be because we might not know what language is being sent, so it's necessary to assume one character set while receiving and then map that to Hangul if needed? That makes sense in a way... Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 14:22
  • 1
    I feel this answer would be much more helpful if it had references.
    – jick
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 22:01
  • 1
    @jick : Yes. I add more explanations and references
    – HK Lee
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 0:26

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